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Irrigation chief says drought worst in 22 years but there will be water for consumption

This year’s drought is likely to be the worst in 22 years but the water stored in the country’s four main dams will be enough to meet the need of water for consumption, said Mr Suthep Noipairote, director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department, on Tuesday.

irrigationWater stored in Bhumibol, Sirikit, Pasak Cholasit and Kwae Noi Bamrungdaen is now measured at 3,489 million cubic metres compared to 6,300 million cubic metres of the same period last year.

Although there will be enough water for consumption, Mr Suthep admitted that there won’t be enough water for agriculture. However, farmers who have planted their second rice crops covering 2-3 million rai, including about 800,000 rai in irrigated area will take care of themselves without help from the government, he said.

Mr Suthep is optimistic that rains will come in mid-May in time for the start of the main rice crop cultivation because the effects from El Nino have eased. Although the arrival of cold spells on different occasions in recent weeks have resulted to drought, he said that the cold fronts have also brought rains.

However, he cautioned the next rainy season would not bring enough water to fill the main dams and, therefore, cloud seeding is necessary to bring more rains.

Regarding measures to help ease drought effects among farmers, the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives has mapped out three measures which include 72 billion baht for one tambon one SME projects; 6 billion baht in emergency credit to help farmers suffering from drought and community credit programme for farmers in 26 provinces in Chao Phraya and Mae Klong river basins.

Thai PBS

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