GIEWS Country Brief: Cambodia 17-June-2016

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Food Security Snapshot - Increased rainfall relieve drought-affected areas - Rice production in 2015 unchanged from 2014 level - Exports of rice forecast to increase in 2016 - Prolonged drought affected about 2.5 million people

Increased rainfall relieve drought-affected areas Plantings of the main (wet) season paddy crop, which represents about 80 percent of the national annual production, normally starts in May with the onset of the rainy season and continues into August. Prolonged dry weather reportedly resulted in sowing delays, although improved rainfall since mid‑May over the main rice‑producing areas located in the southeastern and central parts, provided some relief. By contrast, Battambang and Banteay Mean Chey, important rice‑growing provinces in the northwest, continued to experience poor rains that are expected to further delay planting operations. At this early stage, the outlook for the 2016 rice crop remains uncertain, as much will depend on the performance of the monsoon rains from July onwards, a critical period for paddy development.

Planting of the 2016 maize crop is underway and the improved rains since mid‑May are also expected to benefit sowing operations and early crop development.

Although the 2015/16 El Niño episode has dissipated, atmospheric conditions now point to a likely occurrence of a La Niña episode towards the end of 2016 (75 percent likelihood during the Northern Hemisphere’s autumn and winter), which would correspond with the planting period of the secondary season crop. Forecasts, however, also indicate a 64 percent chance that La Niña may occur earlier in the July‑September 2016 period. If an early onset transpires, which is historically associated with heavier rainfall, this could benefit late planting and crop development of the main cereal season crops, although excessive rains could also raise the potential for flooding.

Rice production in 2015 unchanged from 2014 Latest official estimates put the 2015 aggregate rice production at 9.3 million tonnes, unchanged from 2014. Improved rainfall during the main cropping season, following some delays in the onset of the rains boosted yields and resulted in an increased output, compensating for the small decrease in the 2016 secondary crop.

Latest official estimates put the 2015 maize output at 400 000 tonnes, almost 30 percent below the 2014 sharply‑reduced level. The prolonged dry weather resulted in severe reductions in the area planted and yields.

Livestock conditions have also been negatively affected with the lack of adequate pasture and reduced water availabilities worsening body conditions and increasing mortality rates.

Exports of rice forecast to increase in 2016 FAO anticipates Cambodia to count on sufficient exportable availabilities to raise exports to 1.35 million tonnes in calendar year 2016, up 150 000 tonnes from last year’s level. The increase reflects expectations of sustained growth of formal milled rice deliveries, but also of a revival of cross‑border demand for paddy.

By contrast, maize shipments in 2016 are set to decrease by 33 percent to150 000 tonnes, due to the sharply reduced 2015 production.

Rice prices followed mixed trends Wholesale prices of rice followed mixed trends in May and were above their year earlier levels. Uncertain early prospects for the 2016 main season crop, due to the early seasonal dryness, supported prices in the key rice‑growing areas. However, in the capital, Phnom Penh, rice prices declined slightly.

Large numbers of people negatively affected by prolonged drought According to official estimates, as of early May, approximately 2.5 million Cambodians were negatively affected by the drought. Reportedly 18 out of 25 provinces were declared as drought‑affected areas. Although rains improved from mid‑May over much of the country, localized areas particularly concentrated in the northwest of the country, continued to suffer from poor rains and require relief assistance.