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Thai farmers asked to delay rice planting as drought bites

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Thai farmers asked to delay rice planting as drought bites

By Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat

 

2019-07-22T215038Z_1_LYNXNPEF6L1U6_RTROPTP_3_THAILAND-AGRICULTURE.JPG

FILE PHOTO: A farmer plants rice in a paddy field in Thailand's Nakhonsawan province, August 16, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

 

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The Thai government has asked farmers to delay planting rice because of drought and the pumping of water from reservoirs for irrigation threatens household supplies, an agriculture ministry official said on Monday.

 

Farmers in the world's second-biggest rice exporter usually plant their main crop in May, the beginning of the rainy season, for harvest between August and October.

 

But this year, the rain has been sparse and drought has been declared in more than a dozen provinces in northern and northeastern rice regions.

 

The government is considering measures such as cloud seeding to try to bring rain but in the meantime, farmers have been asked to hold off.

 

"We would like to ask farmers not to grow new crops of rice because there may not be enough water," Irrigation Department official Sanya Sangpumpong told Reuters.

 

The pumping of water to keep crops alive had led to a serious depletion of reservoirs, he said.

 

"Human consumption must be prioritized first," he said.

The biggest impact would be on jasmine rice, which is planted in August for harvest by the end of the year. It is grown largely in the northeast.

 

Rainfall in the main rice-growing regions was the lowest in 10 years, at 12% below average, the Meteorological Department said. Rain in August and November was expected to be 5% to 10% below average.

 

A rice farmer in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen said it was the worst dry spell he had seen in years and he had been pumping water from a reservoir to keep his first crop alive.

 

"If it does not rain then I won't plant a new crop," Pradit Sirithammajak, 48, told Reuters.

 

"It's not worth the cost."

 

At the same time, the level of water in the Mekong River, which passes northern and northeastern Thailand, had fallen below a historic low seen in 1992, according to the inter-governmental Mekong River Commission.

 

This was partly due to the low rain but also because China was holding back more of the river's water in a hydroelectric dam on its upper reaches.

 

(Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Robert Birsel)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-07-23
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28 minutes ago, webfact said:

but also because China was holding back more of the river's water in a hydroelectric dam on its upper reaches.

water wars, they are not doing it for electrical generation, which requires water passthru

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

"We would like to ask farmers not to grow new crops of rice because there may not be enough water,"

Bet the farmers say "no!"

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Maybe it's time for rice farmers to "think outside of the box" how about trying an alternative crop that needs less water to grow?

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The farmers will listen for sure, just as much as they listen when they are asked not to burn. 

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The wife has quite a lot of rice fields up north ,she doesnt bother with them herself but just tells her sister to add them to her fields and plant the rice , but this year because of the lack of water she has not bothered to get the rice planted ,,wonder how many are doing the same ,luckily they dont need the cash .

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17 minutes ago, hotchilli said:

Maybe it's time for rice farmers to "think outside of the box" how about trying an alternative crop that needs less water to grow?

I have tried to tell my family the same for 10 years,and buy the rice instead.No chance.This is what they have done for always

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22 minutes ago, hotchilli said:

Maybe it's time for rice farmers to "think outside of the box" how about trying an alternative crop that needs less water to grow?

And can be used for medicinal purposes!

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2 hours ago, alant said:

Bet the farmers say "no!"

Farmer opposite my house has just planted a new crop, the third this year. It sprouted last week, now it's absolutely brown bread.

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money talks, even they will shoot themselves in the foot later...  mooooooneeeeyyy

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Might have more rain dancers in the bars this year... 

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5 hours ago, webfact said:

But this year, the rain has been sparse and drought has been declared in more than a dozen provinces in northern and northeastern rice regions.

Perhaps it is time to consider growing cereal grain crops used in dryland farming - wheat, oats, barley, rye, flax etc. such as are grown in Saskatchewan, Canada where precipitation is typically less than 400 mm per year.

 

Saskatchewan is called Canada’s breadbasket, its agricultural soil is among the richest in the world. The province is the main producer of wheat in Canada and one of the largest in the world. To achieve this position, Canada has developed wheat varieties and irrigation systems better adapted to shorter growing seasons and to periods of drought.

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I am sure remembering reading the Agriculture Minister of the previous government (meet the new boss - same as the old boss) saying at a ridiculous moment in time like January or similar, guaranteeing no drought this year....

I thought at the time, mmm, clairvoyant or just an idiot?

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4 minutes ago, thaiguzzi said:

I am sure remembering reading the Agriculture Minister of the previous government (meet the new boss - same as the old boss) saying at a ridiculous moment in time like January or similar, guaranteeing no drought this year....

I thought at the time, mmm, clairvoyant or just an idiot?

Give him some credit, he could be multi-tasking.  An idiot clairvoyant.

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34 minutes ago, Prairieboy said:

Perhaps it is time to consider growing cereal grain crops used in dryland farming - wheat, oats, barley, rye, flax etc. such as are grown in Saskatchewan, Canada where precipitation is typically less than 400 mm per year.

Problem is cereal grain crops cannot be grown here, they die off at temps above 30c, also rice paddies are not suited to growing anything other than rice without a huge investment bringing in "top soil" this investment would take years to pay back.

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