Low rice yields worry Cambodian Church
Floods put Church projects funded by agriculture under threat
Many projects are partly funded through revenue raised through rice cultivation, but flooding last year has seriously affected yields in Church-owned paddies, many Church people say.
“Flooding has seen yields drop from 2.5 tons per hectare to less than 1.5 tons per hectare,” said Chrouch Saven, a farmer from the Chamnaom community in Battambang apostolic prefecture.
Prices are also much lower than last year.
“A year ago we could get at least US$320 per ton. This year the most we can sell for is US$230,” he said.
Battambang, in western Cambodia, is the only Church jurisdiction in the country that owns and manages rice fields to help support the Church’s various ministries and charitable works.
Father Pedro Gomez, the parish priest, estimates Church-owned fields in Chamnaom produced only 30 percent of their normal capacity due to flooding.
“It could affect some of our Church activities. More worrying is that some farmers may face rising debts because they have taken out loans for gasoline, fertilizers and other expenses,” he said.
The Church is considering ways of helping them, he added.
The prefecture owns a total of 215 hectares, of which 46 hectares are in Chamnaom, according to Tum Vanny, a Church official.
From a total of 240 tons of rice produced by Church-owned fields annually, around 160 tons are used in Church projects for the poor. The rest is kept as stock or sold to cover rice production expenses, Vanny said.
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