Cambodia’s economy is based largely on the agricultural sector, especially rice, which is central to this sector, not only due to the majority of Cambodia’s farmers depend directly and indirectly on the success of the rice crop each year, but being the main food staple. Moreover, rice production is a big factor in the national effort to promote food security. Therefore, the government and donors make efforts to expand the irrigated area after recognizing the importance of water management to promoting the country’s rice production.
This policy brief presents a case study which highlights the key findings of a household survey across three provinces in Cambodia; to assess the value of water to farmers in terms of productivity, some of the key findings are:
raising water fees “too much” will not lead to increased revenue for farmer water user communities (FWUCs)
farmers are acutely sensitive to changes in water fees above a relatively small value, thus raising water fees may be used to reallocate water to other uses
increasing water productivity in rice production when water is most used, seems central to balancing competing water uses and policy objectives
Finally, the authors conclude that the marginal return to farmers from irrigation costs in the wet season is low; therefore farmers will not be willing to pay much for water during the wet season. Furthermore, they recommend some policy implications, in which increasing productivity in the wet season through interventions at the level of research and development, is central to any effort to better manage irrigation water. Also, neighboring countries’ experiences in this area may be useful in selecting an appropriate policy-mix for the Cambodian context.