Incomes dry up for farmers on Cambodia’s huge lake

Life has never been easy for farmers along Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake – the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia – and now water shortages, soil degradation and the rising costs for chemicals have added to their hardships.

“Each season, the most challenging problems we farmers commonly face are a lack of finance and water,” said Reth Pheach, 50, who has land in Sa Kream commune in Kampong Thom province.

Sitting under a dilapidated wooden house about 80 kilometers from the Tonle Sap Lake, he added: “In the past, we did not have water shortages. We rarely had droughts, but now the weather has become unpredictable. I don’t know why this happens.”

For Pheach, the decreasing fertility of the soil is seen as a natural process and his only answer is to use more chemicals if he wants to farm out of season. Increasing his use of chemicals is the only way to maintain his yields. 

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Sao Phal Niseiy