The Bangkok Post continues its series on the aftermath of the floods with a look at the damage to agriculture.
Rice farmer Hoon Nakchapoo stands in her ruined paddy field in Nakhon Ratchasima’s flood-ravaged Pak Thong Chai district. The province’s worst floods came two weeks before a major harvest and wiped out crops. JETJARAS NA NAKHON
Apinya Wipatayotin (in Pak Thong Chai, Nakhon Ratchasima)
Once the leaves of rice stalks in paddy fields at tambon Ngew turned yellow and dark brown, the hopes of rice farmers withered with them.
Farmers here had high hopes for their second crop this year.
Their expectations plummeted as the water kept on rising after floods hit the area and healthy rice plants were submerged for several weeks.
Hoon Nakchapoo, a 58-year-old farmer, visited her 10 rai of paddy fields to check on the extent of the damage.
‘‘We can do nothing except let the plants die and become natural fertiliser,’’ Ms Hoon said.
‘‘If the water had come two weeks later, we could have survived. We were scheduled to harvest the rice within two weeks. But the water came first.’’
She is among about 1,000 families now suffering from the devastation of their paddy fields by the floods. The Ngew community is at least fortunate enough to be able to plant rice twice a year.
Ms Hoon spent about 30,000 baht on seeds and fertiliser. One rai of paddy usually produces 700kg of rice that can be sold for nine baht a kilogramme. If the flood had not drowned her paddy fields, Ms Hoon could have reaped 63,000 baht for her labour from this crop.
Somchintana Polchimplee, a 54-year-old farmer, faced the same damage. She lost six rai of paddy in the flood.
She had planned to spend money from selling the rice for her children’s education and payment of her debts. Now that the expected income has gone down the drain, she remains at a loss about what to do next.
‘‘I don’t know whether the Irrigation Department will discharge water to us [later this year],’’ she said.
‘‘If not, we will have to wait until next year for the next crop.
‘‘We might grow short-life plants such as green beans for supplementary earnings in the meantime.’’
Ms Somchintana has already reported the damage to her crop and has been waiting for compensation. Previously, compensation for paddy fields damaged by floods was put at 600 baht a rai. This year, however, the government announced it would pay 2,098 baht a rai.
Ratchata Bhomapibal, 36, chief of Ngew’s tambon administration office, said more than 70% of the 2,000 rai of paddy fields in the area were reported to have been severely damaged by flooding. The office is surveying the damage. The total figure will be reported back to state agencies.
Other types of commercial crops are grown in about 14,000 rai in Pak Thong Chai district. Half were damaged by the flood.
Piyapong Tiyaprasertkul, 40, who has 40 rai of maize and tapioca, said it was the first damage he had ever experienced. He lost more than half of his expected revenue.
After the flood receded, he sent his workers to collect some resistant maize and healthy tapioca trees for replanting.
‘‘I do not expect to claim a good price for the maize because of the high moisture content,’’ he said.
‘‘We can’t collect the tapioca because the roots are not mature yet.
‘‘To save the cost, we just have to choose healthy tapioca trees to replant in a new place.’’
He has reported his damage to local state agencies but has not yet heard back from them.
A villager who invested in a lotus field made a complaint to the local authority. She argued that she deserved compensation but the government’s list only covers main cash crops such as rice, corn, sugarcane and tapioca.
‘‘We are seeking justice. Although lotus is a water plant, it was also damaged by the flood. Some plants were uprooted by the strong current and died,’’ she said.
‘‘Lotus farmers lost the opportunity to make money from our crops, too.’’
opportunity – a chance to do something, or a situation in which it is easy for you to do something โอกาส
aftermath – the effects and results of something bad or important ผลที่ตามมา
ruined – destroyed; spoiled แหลกลาญ, ชำรุดทรุดโทรม, ปรักหักพัง
paddy field – a field planted with rice growing in water นาข้าว
ravage – to destroy something or damage it very badly ทำให้เสียหาย, ทำลาย, ล้างผลาญ
harvest – the activity of collecting a crop, in this case a rice crop การเก็บเกี่ยวผลผลิต
wipe out – to destroy something ทำลาย, กำจัดให้หมดไป
crop – a plant grown for food, usually on a farm พืชผล
drown – to sink under water and die จมน้ำ
stalk – a long thin part of a plant with a flower, fruit, or leaf at the end ลำต้น
withered – (of plants and flowers) dying from dryness เหี่ยวแห้ง
expectations – the belief that something will happen สิ่งที่คาดหวังว่าจะเกิดขึ้นในอนาคต
plummet – to fall suddenly; to suddenly become much lower ตกฮวบลง
submerged – under water จมน้ำ อยู่ใต้น้ำ
extent – size; the degree to which something happens or is likely to happen ขนาด ขอบเขต
fertiliser – a natural or chemical substance which is spread on the land or given to plants, to make plants grow well ปุ๋ย
survive – to continue to exist อยู่รอด สืบต่อไปได้
scheduled – planned to happen at a particular time or day ตามตารางเวลา
suffer – to be badly affected by a very difficult or unpleasant situation ประสบความลำบาก
devastation – damage or destruction affecting a large area or a lot of people การทำลายล้าง, การทำให้เสียหายอย่างรุนแรง
fortunate – lucky โชคดี, เคราะห์ดี
reap – to get something as a result of something that you do ได้รับผลตอบแทน
labour – work, especially hard physical work งานที่ใช้พละกำลัง
debt – an amount of money that you owe หนี้
income – money that someone gets from working or from investing money รายได้
down the drain – completely lost or wasted สูญเปล่า
irrigation – the process of bringing water to land through a system of pipes, ditches, etc. in order to make crops grow ระบบชลประทาน
discharge – to let a liquid flow out ปล่อยออก, ขับออก
supplementary – additional ซึ่งช่วยเสริม
in the meantime – during the time between two events or between the present time and a future event เวลาในระหว่างนั้น
compensation – money that someone receives because something bad has happened to them เงินชดเชย
severe – very serious and unpleasant รุนแรง
survey – to make an examination of something to find out about its condition สำรวจ
state – government รัฐบาล
commercial – for business purposes เกี่ยวกับการค้า
maize – a tall plant grown in many parts of the world for its yellow seeds which are eaten as food, made into flour or fed to animals ข้าวโพด
tapioca (cassava) – a tropical plant with roots that can be cooked and eaten or made into flour มันสำปะหลัง
revenue – income from business activities รายได้
recede – to move back; to move further away into the distance; subside ลดลง, ถอยหลัง
resistant – not harmed or affected by something
moisture – an amount of water or another liquid in the air, on the surface of something, or in a substance ความชื้น
mature – fully grown เติบโตเต็มที่
invest – to use your money with the aim of making a profit from it ลงทุน
deserve – of something that should have สมควรได้รับ
justice - fairness in the way people are dealt with ความเป็นธรรม, ความถูกต้อง, ความยุติธรรม
cash crop – a crop grown to earn money
uproot – to pull a whole tree or plant from the ground, including all the roots that grow in the soil ถอนต้นไม้, ถอนราก
current – a strong movement of water in one direction กระแสน้ำ