DROUGHT

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Across the country, a cruel drought takes terrible toll

Published May 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Across-the-country-a-cruel-drought-takes-terrible–30285689.html

DROUGHT

AS THE centre of the Yom River in Phichit’s Bung Narang district shows cracks in the riverbed after seven months of drought, farmers along the river are still unable to grow rice.

Residents in Pho Thale district’s Tambon Noen Sawang yesterday hosted the Bung Fai rocket festival, lighting 50 rockets as an offering to the supernatural Phraya Thaen to appeal for abundant rainfall. The tradition, originating in Roi Et province, has been organised for the past two decades in that province in keeping with the beliefs of many residents.

In Uttaradit’s Tha Pla district, the Nan River is so dry that in the middle of its bed, sand dunes have emerged during this drought, believed to be the worst in 50 years. Ban Huai Charoen villager Wijitra Lamyai, 53, said water levels in the river have never been so low since the residents’ relocation due to the construction of the Sirikit Dam 47 years ago.

A modest upside is that the exposed riverbed has allowed residents in the area to harvest sand clams, known as Asaphis violascens. The community has agreed to only harvest the larger clams with a limit of five kilograms per household as a conservation measure to protect the high-protein resource, Wijitra said.

In Pathum Thani’s Lam Luk Ka district, the Lam Luk Ka-Thanya Buri Road in Moo 8 of Tambon Lat Sawai has been damaged by subsidence, causing a 1.5-metre-deep and 100-metre-long section to collapse yesterday, prompting authorities to close the road as a safety precaution.

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In Chon Buri’s Sri Racha district, the Nong Kho Haeng Reservoir in Tambon Nong Kham was at its driest in 13 years, revealing the two-kilometre Nong Kho-Hoobbon Road that had previously been submerged.

In Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district, Phu Sai Reservior, the source of tap water for Tambon Huai Sat Yai, had been dry for a month while rainmaking operations on March 1 yielded only modest showers, which were insufficient to refill the reservoir.

Local authorities have had to bring water from other areas to assist the affected 1,700 families in 10 villages. The Huai Sat Yai health promotion hospital has also demanded water, which will be supplied by a local army camp today. About 200 elephants living in the La-oo Forest are also suffering from water shortages.

In Trang, about 160,000 people in 50,000 households in 10 districts are short of tap water and thousands of rai of farmland have been affected. The drought has also caused three major lotus farmers in Tambon Bang Rak in the province’s Muang district to suffer losses as their combined 30-rai (4.8-hectares) lotus plots have gone dry. Sana Kimchiang, whose 12-rai lotus farm was damaged, said this was the worst drought he had ever experienced, depriving him of his normal monthly income of Bt20,000 to Bt30,000.

In Satun, goat farmers lamented that the five-month drought in the area had caused grass that was a source of goat feed to wither – in addition to the scarcity of drinking water for the animals. The Satun livestock office has already provided 2,500 rolls of dry grass to farmers and is procuring an additional 1,000 rolls. Farmers who are in need are encouraged to present their national identity cards to collect more grass, an official said.

 

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No respite from heat; rains may be delayed

Published May 15, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/No-respite-from-heat;-rains-may-be-delayed-30285228.html

DROUGHT

The Doi Tao reservoir is reduced to a pond as 4,000 households nearby suffer from severe drought. Photo Stanley Bennett

The Doi Tao reservoir is reduced to a pond as 4,000 households nearby suffer from severe drought. Photo Stanley Bennett

Meteorologists warn of higher temperatures; air too arid and will stop formation of rain bearing clouds

THAILAND will continue to suffer scorching temperatures this month and the rainy season may be further delayed due to the lack of moisture in the air, meteorologists have warned.

Wattana Kanbua, senior meteorologist and Marine Meteorological Centre director, revealed yesterday that Thailand may start getting some rain from May 14 onwards, as the moisture-bearing southwestern wind from the Indian Ocean will blow into Thailand. However, due to the hot weather in most parts of the country, it may not rain as expected.

“Judging from the weather-pattern stimulator, we can see that Thailand will get more rain after mid-May, but I’m concerned that the weather in Thailand will still be too hot and dry for clouds to form and create rain,” Wattana said.

“The situation will be like last year when the winds came on time, but the weather was too hot and arid for rain to form. That is why we need more trees to trap the moisture and keep the weather cool,” he said.

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As it was still unclear when the rainy season will come, many areas in the country are suffering badly from drought and hot weather.

In Chiang Mai, the Doi Tao reservoir has dried up and affected more than 27,000 people in six tambons nearby. Locals say this is the worst drought in 40 years, and the water level has dropped so much that people can walk across the reservoir.

Uthai Intachad, a local resident, said people living near the reservoir used to make Bt1,000 per day |from farming and fishing, but now they have had to switch to raising livestock and relying on government subsidies because there is not enough water.

The hot and dry conditions have also resulted in the price of vegetables rising. In Phitsanulok province, for instance, the price of some vegetables such as yard-long beans has increased tenfold.

According to the Royal Irrigation Department, the four main dams in the Chao Phraya Basin only have 10 per cent of water available, and 21 dams across the country are less than 30 per cent full.

The Meteorological Department revealed that many parts of Thailand will have to endure hot weather, especially during this week, with the mercury hitting 40 degrees Celsius in the North, Northeast, East |and Central regions due to low pressure.

Though May is usually the transitional month when the weather changes from summer to the rainy season, the department warned that weather patterns will be unpredictable and that rainfall will be slightly lower than average.

Meanwhile, the department also warned that the North, Northeast, East and Central regions may be hit by summer storms today and from Saturday to next Monday due to the southeastern winds.

Thailand is not the only country in the region suffering from sizzling temperatures. The Associated Press reported that Cambodia had to reduce school hours as temperatures in the country have hit 43 degrees Celsius.

A spokesperson for the Cambodian Education Ministry said that schools were starting 30 minutes later and closing half an hour early because most did not have air-conditioning and the high temperatures may cause students to suffer from heat-related illnesses.

 

Drought to shrink GDP growth

Published April 15, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Drought-to-shrink-GDP-growth-30282418.html

DROUGHT

THIS YEAR’S drought is expected to cut 2016 economic growth by 0.85 percentage point, and could cost the agricultural and business sectors Bt119.28 billion, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting.

However, the centre expects the government’s economic stimulus of Bt60 billion to Bt100 billion to sustain the economy during the drought.

Thanawat Polvichai, the centre’s director, said that based on recent surveys, the drought, which could last until June, was expected to lead to losses of Bt119.28 billion in farm income and business earnings.

The business sector is expected to suffer Bt41.42 billion in direct and indirect losses, and the agricultural sector Bt77.86 billion.

In a survey of 1,200 respondents in the agricultural sector from March 7-16, about 58 per cent thought this year’s drought would be more severe than last year’s.

The North and Northeast experienced the most adverse effects, leading to increases in production costs, the cost of water resources, household debts and daily spending. Meanwhile, production and farm income dropped.

Farmers expect the drought to end in June.

However, the government is expected to sustain the economy during the drought with its Bt70-billion Ban Pracha Rath project and other stimulus measures.

According to the survey, 82.1 per cent of farmers had made adjustments, such as changing their occupation to trade activities, making crop changes, reducing the growing period, relocating to work in the cities, and participating in state projects.

However, the remaining 17.9 per cent made no adjustments, either because their farms were in the irrigation areas, they doubted the drought would be too severe, or other reasons.

The farmers surveyed urged the government to provide assistance in water sources, agricultural prices, stabilising farm incomes, household debts, high production costs and underground debts, in that order.

“More than 70 per cent of the farmers surveyed conceded that they could barely cope with the drought, or not at all, because of their debt repayments in the formal system, production costs, utility expenses, [other] spending and underground debts,” Thanawat said.

About 55.7 per cent of farmers who responded to the survey have debts in the formal system and 42.3 per cent underground system. Their debts average Bt167,452 per household.

Based on a recent survey on 400 business operators, they were feeling the most impacts from the country’s economic conditions, followed by drought, exchange rates, business confidence and interest rates, in that order.

About 25.9 per cent of the business operators surveyed were directly affected mostly by the drought and 69.6 per cent indirectly. They indicated that they could sustain their businesses amid the drought until at least August, and some up to October.

The business operators surveyed wanted the government to establish a mechanism or a contingency plan to deal with the drought, followed by sustainable water and dam management, improved farm income and extension of debt schedules.

In another survey of 180 representatives of state and private agencies in the agricultural and economic sectors across the nation from March 9-18, the drought was estimated not to last too long, probably until May or June.

The drought was not affecting the economy at the provincial level, with little impact on production activities, they said.

Overall production of farmers and income from sales of agricultural products had fallen a bit, but most prices either did not change or rose somewhat.

Dam’s ‘dead storage’ to be tapped

Published April 7, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Dams-dead-storage-to-be-tapped-30281782.html

DROUGHT

A farmer brings cattle to drink water in the drying canal at Klong Makham Tao in Suphan Buri’s Don Chedi district. The province and many other areas in the Central region of the country are in the midst of the drought crisis. The authorities have issued m

A farmer brings cattle to drink water in the drying canal at Klong Makham Tao in Suphan Buri’s Don Chedi district. The province and many other areas in the Central region of the country are in the midst of the drought crisis. The authorities have issued m

Floating houses are seen on Udon Thani’s Sakae Krang River, whose water levels have dropped significantly this dry season, with any further drop set to badly affect local fishermen.

Floating houses are seen on Udon Thani’s Sakae Krang River, whose water levels have dropped significantly this dry season, with any further drop set to badly affect local fishermen.

Irrigation Department to use measure in effort to help Khon Khen people.

THE ROYAL Irrigation Department (RID) has decided to use Ubolrat Dam’s “dead storage”, or water that can only be pumped out, to help people in Khon Kaen and nearby provinces cope with the drought crisis.

The dam only has 32 million cubic metres of drainable water left, which accounts for just 1 per cent of its actual capacity.

“Hence, it is necessary to use about 200 million cubic metres of the dam’s dead storage to ensure that local people have enough water for consumption until July,” Agriculture Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya said yesterday.

After some of the dam’s dead storage is used, it will still have some 400 million cubic metres left for maintenance.

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Relevant authorities are now doing their best to minimise the effect of drought on people, especially when it comes to water for consumption.

RID’s director general Suthep Noipairoj said the Ubolrat Dam now has to release 500,000 cubic metres of water daily for local consumption and for maintaining the ecological balance.

“We have already stopped allocating water from the dam for farming purposes,” he said, as he urged people to save as much water as possible.

“We will have to touch the dead storage soon, which should remind us that we need to save water to ensure we have enough available until July,” he said.

Though the rainy season usually begins in May, some experts have already warned that the rains may come late this year.

According to Suthep, the four major dams in the Chao Phraya River basin namely Bhumibol, Sirikit, Kwai Noi and Pasak Jolasid will also be able to provide water for consumption.

In addition to limited water sources, several coastal provinces are now having problems with the intrusion of seawater. A key tap-water station in Pathum Thani province has found that the salinity of raw water in the Chao Phraya River in its area has already risen beyond normal standard four times this month.

If this station is not able to get an adequate supply of raw water, many people in Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan and the eastern part of Bangkok will have problems accessing tap water.

Pathum Thani irrigation chief Chuchart Supawattanangkoon said yesterday that relevant officials had already tried to tackle this threat.

“Now, we consider using water in the Bang Luang Chiang Rak canal as an alternative source of raw water,” he said.

In Nakhon Ratchasima province, |a waterworks authority has also |been busy preparing alternative |water sources for their tap-water services.

In the face of serious water shortage, Thailand will this year scale down the use of water during its famous Songkran Festival.

For instance, Khon Kaen authorities have already decided to prepare fewer water-filling spots for Songkran revellers. Usually, celebrants have fun drenching each other during the festival, which runs in the middle of the hot month of April.

 

Commerce Ministry looks for alternatives for drought-hit farmers

Published March 18, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Commerce-Ministry-looks-for-alternatives-for-droug-30281258.html

DROUGHT

THE COMMERCE Ministry will try to secure markets for crops that consume less water and have a short harvest period since farmers have switched to these in order to cope with severe drought that has affected 22 provinces.

The ministry will also help farmers sell their community products to supplement their income this year.

Deputy permanent secretary Somchart Sroythong said the ministry had helped secure markets for green/yellow beans, peanuts, corn, tapioca, fresh vegetables, lemongrass, pumpkins, onions, tomatoes, coconuts, durians, bananas and passion fruit.

As for farming areas that are not close to water or irrigation sources and cannot grow alternative crops, the Commerce Ministry’s provincial offices have advised farmers to start producing items their communities specialise in so they can compensate for the loss of income.

The products range from garments and basketry to woodcarvings, utensils and decoration items. The ministry has helped find buyers for such products and is educating farmers on the basics of marketing to ensure they produce items that meet the demand.

Somchart also believes that the prices for fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs and pork this year could be higher than normal because of lower supply. However, the ministry has taken logistical steps to minimise the chance of shortages and prevent a sharp rise in prices.

The Commerce Ministry has held 285 “Blue Flag Fairs” in the 22 drought-hit provinces since November, with the target being 400 such fairs by next month. So far, these fairs have generated Bt31.97 million and will help ease the cost of living for 130,998 people, equivalent to Bt21.31 million, once the remaining 115 fairs are held, Somchart claimed.

The ministry’s provincial offices nationwide are also monitoring the prices of goods and services to protect consumers from merchants who may hoard goods in order to push prices higher, Somchart added.

Ministries to aid farmers in coping with the drought

Published March 17, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Ministries-to-aid-farmers-in-coping-with-the-droug-30279821.html

DROUGHT

The Commerce Ministry will work closely with the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry on measures to cope with this year’s drought to avoid problems with shortages of certain crops and weak commodity prices.

Commerce permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara said the ministry has instructed its offices nationwide to conduct field surveys on which crops planted by farmers will be affected by this year’s drought in terms of supply and prices as well as excess or shortages of certain crops.

This will help the ministry arrange appropriate assistance and technical advice for farmers to lessen the drought impact. Farmers are being urged to grow soybeans, green beans and other crops that require less water than rice.

The Commerce Ministry will meet with Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry on Wednesday to assess the projected output of crops and fruits (eg durians, mangoes, longans and rambutans). Farmers who produce such crops/fruits will be helped with sales and distribution through farm/community outlets, central/border provinces/wholesale/retail markets and the organising of tropical fruits festivals nationwide at tourism venues and malls. The aim is to promote consumption of fruits and various processed fruit products, she said.

The fruits will gradually hit the markets, beginning with mangoes, rambutans, durians and longans in the eastern region. As for the southern and northern regions, such fruits will hit the markets this June-August.

The ministry will also push Thai fruit exports, especially to China where demand continues to increase for Thai mangoes, longans and durians, as well as look for other export markets. Thai fruit fair/exhibitions and promotion events at department stores overseas should also stimulate demand, Chutima said.

The ministry does not foresee a problem with weak prices for Thai fruits this year, as the drought has reduced output significantly Hence, prices should increase and this will benefit fruit growers and farmers, she added.

Reservoir crisis forcing extreme dam measures

Published March 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Reservoir-crisis-forcing-extreme-dam-measures-30280606.html

DROUGHT

THE ROYAL IRRIGATION Department (RID) is considering pumping water for use from the bottom levels of some major dams.

Water levels at 10 reservoirs nationwide are showing signs of crisis and the RID has warned farmers to stop stealthily pumping water out for crops or they “could be talking with national security officers”.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chatchai Sarikalya, after a meeting of ministerial executives yesterday, revealed that Ubonrat, Mae Kuang Udom Thara, Huailuang, Bang Phra, Lam Pao, Chulabhorn, Lam Phra Phloeng, Krasiao, Mae-Ngad and Klong Si Yat dams were at very low levels.

The ministry planned additional measures to prepare for emergencies such as pumping “dead water” from dam bottoms, diverting water from other sources and adjusting the water-irrigation plans to ensure enough water for people’s use and consumption.

As the month of May usually marks the beginning of seasonal rice growing, Chatchai said the RID couldn’t provide water for farming. Farmers growing crops outside irrigated areas would need their own water sources or depend on rainwater.

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RID chief Suthep Noipairoj said the 10 dams should have enough water for general use and keep up the bio-system until the end of July. He also warned that farmers around the 10 dams wouldn’t be supplied with water and they must not pump it out for farmlands or the RID would ask police and military officers to convince them.

As for the pumping of “dead water” from 10 dams, so far three reservoirs were confirmed to have enough water for pumping use and consumption – Huailuang (with about 3 million cubic metres), Ubonrat (50 million cubic metres) and Bang Phra (5 million cubic metres), Suthep said.

On Tuesday, the four main dams of the Chao Phraya River Basin (Sirikit, Bhumibhol, Pasak Jolasid and Kwai Noi) contained about 16 per cent of capacity and were releasing 18 million cubic metres of water a day, Suthep said.

Agriculture Ministry spokesman Surapol Jarupong reported about the Chao Phraya River Basin’s current summer rice-growing situation. He said 1.968 million rai had grown rice, about 520,000 rai of which were already harvested. The ministry had implemented various measures to aid the drought-affected farmers nationwide, he said. As of February 26, the RID had hired 112,748 farmers for extra jobs with a budget of Bt2 billion. They included 26,327 farmers from the Chao Phraya River basin, 9,280 from Mae Klong River Basin and 77,141 from other river basin areas.

Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department chief Lersak Riewtrakulpaiboon said his office was asking for scholarships for pilot students to solve its pilot shortage. Formulating a plan to boost pilot salaries and job security would be completed in 4-5 months.

Nakhon Sawan and Kanchanaburi rain-making operations were postponed on Tuesday due to lack of humidity, but should begin again on March 8, he added.

In Pathum Thani’s Thanyaburi district, Department of Rural Roads chief Pisak Jitviriyavasin and a team yesterday inspected the road running along the east side of Khlong 13 canal. It revealed 100-metre-long, three-metre-deep cracks due to drought-triggered, low water levels in the canal. Besides setting up warning signs for motorists, the department would fix the road section to be passable as a short-term solution.

The mid-term solution involved budget allocation for a soil layer survey for safer design and road repair. In the long term, the department would talk with the RID to possibly shift the roads away from irrigation canals, he added.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, 3,000 unemployed people are registering with the provincial employment office per day due to the bad economy. Employment official Suwan Doungta said he was worried that the drought disaster would cause thousands of farmers to become jobless.

The office would contact provinces with high vacancies such as Rayong, Pathum Thani and Chon Buri to offer jobs, he added.

 

Country heads for graver crisis

Published January 28, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Country-heads-for-graver-crisis-30277926.html

DROUGHT

DISRUPTED waterworks operations and subsiding roads in Bangkok’s nearby provinces have signalled that the country may have to brace for an even graver drought crisis than last year’s.

In Chachoengsao province, three tap-water stations have ceased production operations since January 15 due to the intrusion of seawater.

“This year, high tides have come so early,” Montri Uthaisri said yesterday in his capacity as the manager of the Provincial Waterworks Authority’s Bang Khla office.

Tap-water stations such as those in Chachoengsao prevent impacts on locals by buying water from other stations for the continued delivery of waterworks services, he said.

The Royal Irrigation Department initially predicted that high tides would arrive in early February, but the seawater intrusion has clearly come much sooner, he added.

“So, it is likely that the shortage of raw water could be more severe than last year,” Montri said.

In Ayutthaya province, drought has already caused road damage in several areas because there was no water to sustain soil layers below the surface.

“One of the roads has subsided by nearly three metres,” said Jeerapong Pintabutr, the director of Ayutthaya’s rural-roads office.

Officials are now surveying the damage and undertaking repairs where possible, he said, adding,

“But in most cases, we are still waiting for a budget [to finance this work] to arrive.”

Tambon Pai Phra Administrative Organisation in the province’s Bang Sai district has reported major damage on a thoroughfare between a community and a main road.

A 50-metre portion of the road has subsided by two metres, leaving a gaping hole about four metres wide.

Ayutthaya fisheries chief Pramuan Meepan said Phraya Banleu Canal in Lat Bua Luang district was running dry, with a huge number of fish already having died.

Relevant authorities have now urged all sectors in the country to use water economically in the face of limited water supply.

There are now just 1.533 billion cubic metres of disposable water in Bhumibol, Sirikit, Kwai Noi and Pasak Jolasid dams – which have a big role to play in the Chao Phraya River Basin.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya, meanwhile, said rain-making operations would be conducted in appropriate areas to increase water supply.

Such operations have already proved successful in increasing water supply in Phichit, Phetchabun, Nakhon Sawan and Lop Buri provinces, he said.

The Royal Irrigation Department said it had already spent more than Bt1 billion in creating jobs for farmers who had to suspend their activities in the wake of drought.

Yom River may dry up in 70 days

Published January 22, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Yom-River-may-dry-up-in-70-days-30277353.html

DROUGHT

A boy walks over a dry paddy field in Chai Nat’s Sapphaya district where a drought crisis looms. Farmers have been urged not to pump water into their summer crop, as the natural crisis will worsen in the next few months.

A boy walks over a dry paddy field in Chai Nat’s Sapphaya district where a drought crisis looms. Farmers have been urged not to pump water into their summer crop, as the natural crisis will worsen in the next few months.

 

WATER IN the Yom River, Sukhothai province’s main artery, is predicted to dry up in 70 days due to the3 ongoing drought

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and key ministers are to visit Nakhon Sawan and Chai Nat provinces tomorrow to follow up progress on eight drought-tackling measures – the former province was the government’s model for the drought programme.

Prayut will also preside over a meeting of a public-private committee for four lower northern provinces at Nakhon Sawan to discuss drought management issues and progress of locals’ wellbeing promotion measures.

Sukhothai Governor Piti Kaewsalubsee predicted locals would feel a worsening of the drought in late March to early April and 400,000 rai of rice fields would be hit hard, so people must save water now. Thailand has a total of 60 million rai of rice fields and 12 million farmers – over half growing rice at areas outside the irrigation system.

Piti said, judging from the water level at the Ban Haad Saphan Chan sluice gates, the province’s water supply was now at 10 million cubic metres out of the 15-million capacity. As a result, officials only opened one sluice gate, releasing water at three cubic metres per second.

Overall, the province’s water for use from Yom River would last 70 days, Priti said. Sukhothai farmers grow rice paddies on 400,000 rai over a total 1.4-million-rai area. Hence they were told to grow fewer water-dependant, short-lived plants and to save up water or else be hit by severe drought in late March and early April, just ahead of the crop harvest, he added.

Phitsanulok’s Bang Rakham farmers, who resisted the Royal Irrigation Department’s ban on off-season rice-growing, resorted to digging up wells in the Yom riverbed to nurture paddies.

Village headman Wirat Buddhakosa said he had the mid-river 18-metre-deep well dug for Bt5,000 to water his 40-rai rice field. Bang Rakham people’s main occupation was rice growing, so they had no choice but to do this despite the authority’s ban, he explained. He claimed at least 100 farmers resorted to this method.

Another farmer, Chalita Chuthong, 40, said her family’s 30-rai rice field – as well as relatives’ 100 rais – depended on a mid-river wells dug last year.

Phitsanulok declared Wat Bot, Bang Krathum and Wang Thong districts as drought disaster zones while Bang Ramkham was poised to be declared too.

The early drought in Chachoengsao’s Muang district has been worsened by massive inflows of seawater that reached up to the Bang Pakong River’s origin in Prachin Buri province. The whole river has become unusable for farming and waterworks. Authorities have now closed 35 sluice gates to save the remaining usable water.

Kanchanaburi’s Srinakharin Dam and Vajiralongkorn Dam now contain only 4,466 million cubic metres. Residents of the seven Mae Klong river basin provinces must save water and refrain from rice growing or shrimp/fish raising, said Srinakharin Dam director Weerasak Srikawi.

The country’s major dam levels as of Monday were: Bhumibhol Dam at 36 per cent of capacity, Sirikit Dam, 49 per cent, Ubol Ratana Dam 29 per cent, Pasak Jolasid Dam 49 per cent and Lampao Dam at 43 per cent.

In Chiang Mai, a Maejo Poll, conducted on 600 farmers nationwide from December 15-30, found 93.83 per cent were drought-affected – half of whom expected this year’s drought to be even worse.

The three top issues triggered by the drought were: the water shortage and subsequent lower rice production (74 per cent),the shrinking income affecting farmers’ debt-repayment ability (66.33 per cent); and higher cost of rice cultivation (62.83 per cent). Slightly over half (57.17 per cent) of farmers disagreed with the seasonal rice-growing ban on grounds that the farmers would have no income to pay debts; while 42.83 thought otherwise.

In Chai Nat’s Sankhaburi district, soldiers and officials yesterday talked with Noi River farmers to warn them not to stealthily pump water for rice fields.

The farmers grew rice paddies despite the off-season rice-growing ban, which was imposed after the supply for water to Sankhaburi dropped to a low level.

This is the first in a series of articles on drought.

 

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