Thai Farmers Asked To Delay Rice Planting Due To Drought

September 17, 2015 – The Thai government has asked farmers to delay planting the second rice crop of the year, after a lack of rainfall across the country.

This is the second time this year that planting has been delayed, and many farmers are concerned they won’t generate any income before the end of 2015. And with only a month until the dry season starts, many are concerned next year’s crop will also fail.

Sowing the seeds of discontent. Rice farmer Chamrus is putting his faith in a crop of green beans this year. Normally he’d be planting rice…but the beans require much less water…although he fears even this sturdy crop will fail. Chamrus shows me just how dry the earth in his fields has become.

Monsoon rains that would usually have left this rice paddy submerged in water never arrived. And this is the second crop to fail this year. It is a landscape which doesn’t look like one afflicted by drought..

But one thing is very noticeable here in central Thailand…the lush green of the rice plants has gone.

Normally the fields behind me would be full of rice paddy, as far as the eye can see, but this year the first crop wasn’t plated because of drought and the governments just announced it wants farmers to delay planting the second crop because there still isn’t enough water, and the fields are full of weeds, and the farmers here will generate no income at all this year

The canals and irrigation ditches that criss cross Thailands central planes are also dangerously low.

In part because of low rainfall but crucially water reserves have been mismanaged. Earlier in the year, when the rainy season failed to start, limited water resources were rationed by the military.

But many farmers complain a disproportionate amount was allocated to Bangkok, while those who needed it most were left high and dry.

And in the aftermath of the 2011 floods, dams have been kept at dangerously low levels.

The rice pledging scheme also encouraged over production …and a depletion of what little water reserve remained. While things are bad for the farmers in the central plains, the situation for those in the poorest areas could be disastrous.

The El Nino weather pattern affecting countries around the Pacific Rim, is raising temperatures, and reducing rainfall.

And if there isn’t significant rainfall in the next thirty days, the drought will get much worse once the dry season begins.

Many farmers have already lost hope of any rice crop for this year…if the rains don’t come soon, they may lose next years harvest too.

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