Thailand: Relief measures planned in response to drought

  • The Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) says that the drought in 2020 is expected to be the worst in four decades.
  • The central region will be hit the hardest, especially the 22 provinces along the Chao Phraya basin. Nakhon Sawan, with over 70,000 rai of rice fields, and Kamphaeng Phet are likely to suffer the most from the drought.
  • Despite planned relief measures like the drilling of wells, the anticipated drought will more than likely rattle agricultural and industrial sectors that largely depend on water supplies for production.
  • On aggregate, reservoirs around the country will be at 44% capacity.
  • The Internal Trade Department says that the drought will reduce supply of farm products. Among the agricultural sub-sectors, crop production is the most important. It accounts for 60% of total agricultural production. The department will offer discounts on important items through 102,000 low-priced shops nationwide.
  • Prices of hom mali paddy are now quoted at THB14,000-15,000 per tonne, with glutinous paddy at THB14,000 and white paddy at THB8,000.
  • The drought will endanger pig herds, compounding the price hike already caused by import demand from China, Laos and Vietnam.
  • Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said the ministry is now revving up construction of an additional 421 water storage facilities covering new large, medium-sized and small-scale water source projects. Collectively, these will increase water capacity by 942 million cubic metres, he said, adding that up to 1.23 million rai of new irrigation areas will benefit from the move.
  • Artificial rainmaking operations are also being planned to cover 25 river basins in 77 provinces. The operations are expected to benefit 230 million rai of farmland.
  • Royal Irrigation Department plans to allocate a total of 28.239 billion cubic metres of water nationwide during the dry season from 1 Nov 19 to 30 Apr 20.
  • The private sector is concerned about the adverse impact of drought. The country’s food and processed food industries will be affected because of this situation, and these sectors are important to domestic consumption and exports.
  • Water suppliers have indicated that they are improving pump stations and other distribution infrastructure, and that water reserves would be enough to tide over the period.
  • Piyaman Tejapaibul, managing director of The Regent Group, said the tourism industry is not suffering from drought by comparison with the agricultural sector. Most standard hotels have applied water-saving measures to reduce operating costs.
  • The bigger concern of hoteliers situated along the beach is coastal erosion from rising sea levels. If this situation persists, tourists will shift their travel plans to other places.

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