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Ancient Sukhothai farming born again

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Grassroots irrigation based on ancient ways still growing crops when more than 50% of fields unused because not enough water. 

Yom and Ping River Map

Map above of the Yom River which flows into the Nan River which flows into the Chao Phraya River (tributaries), mentioned in the article. Photo below of the Yom River (Source: Wikipedia).

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Ancient wisdom eases the dry-out

As drought hits much of the country, two provinces are still planting crops busily
18/04/2012
Apinya Wipatayotin

Yom RiverWhile more than half of the country's farming areas lay idle during the dry season due to water shortages, about 10,000 families in Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet are growing a new rice crop in April.

By following ancient beliefs about water management, the farmers in the two provinces say they have had no water shortages over the past 10 years and are able to continue growing their paddy even as the rest of the country suffers from drought.

Jaroon Sukpan, chief of tambon Nongjik in Sukhothai's Khiri Mat district, said the village was affected by water shortages for a long time as the water level in the Yom River normally dropped during the dry season.

The villagers decided to divert some of the water from the Ping River in Kamphaeng Phet to cope with the shortages but this sparked a conflict with the people there as they also needed the water.

In a bid to resolve their disputes, communities finally decided to sort out their differences and discuss a common water management plan.

"The first 10 years of talks was difficult. But the more we worked together, the more we saw positive results. Since 2010, we have united our network and everybody is happy with the water management," said Mr Jaroon, coordinator of the Klong Tho Thong Daeng Water Network.

Klong Tho Thong Daeng is wisdom derived from the Sukhothai era some 700 years ago. People at that time diverted water from the Ping River through big wooden pipes made from big logs, each held together with copper wires, or thong daeng in Thai. The water was sent via sub-canals to the paddy fields using the law of gravity.

Using the knowledge of the ancient Sukhothai people, the villagers have built a network of canals to irrigate their farmland.

Sluice gates were constructed on main canals to control water levels. Moreover, more than 1,000 small- and medium-sized reservoirs and dykes have been built to retain water.

The 171km of waterways can send water to Kong Krai Lat, the farthest district, in three days.

For tambon Nong Jik, the water is diverted from Klong Yai Sam Kwang in Kamphaeng Phet and distributed to more than 1,000 sub-canals leading to the paddy fields. Some of these canals are improvements on those dug since the Sukhothai era.

Nong Jik is one of 20 tambons in Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet provinces which are benefiting from the water network of Klong Tho Thong Daeng. The network provides water to 100 villages in the two provinces, covering an area of 216,418 rai.

Somsak Saneket, 46, a Nong Jik farmer, said he had returned to his 15-rai paddy field 10 years ago after spending more than a decade in Bangkok working in construction.

He is now busy diverting water from a small canal into his paddy field where the rice seedlings he planted last month are growing. Next to his land, another farmer is clearing his field for the next rice crop.

"This place used to be dry and arid," Mr Somsak said. "I can't remember how long ago it was. It was like that when I was born."

"But things have completely changed. I can now plant two rice crops a year and make more money. If there was no decent water system here, I might have lived in hardship until I died."

Network coordinator Sing Udomket, 53, said that all water users must pay a service charge of 5 baht per rai of land. The fee will be used to set up a fund, part of which will be drawn to give to farmers who have less chance of accessing the water network.

Some rice produced from the project and other necessary items have been donated to hilltribe people.

"For each crop, we have worked closely with the Department of Royal Irrigation. It will inform us in advance about the water level discharged from Bhumibol dam so we can select a proper crop to match the water amount available," Mr Sing said.

He said the area has had no problem with either droughts or floods because of its effective water management system. 

The department usually opens water Klong Tho Thong Daeng water sluice gate to farmers between December and March.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Ancient wisdom eases the dry-out, As drought hits much of the country, two provinces are still planting crops busily, 18/04/2012, Apinya Wipatayotin, link

Irrigation Vocabulary

irrigation - bringing water to crops that do not get enough water from direct rain fall, either by moving water to fields through canals or by storing water in reservoirs for use during dryer periods  (See Wikipedia)

Sukhothai kingdom - (1238-1438) the famous ancient kingdom that came before the modern state of Siam and Thailand ราชอาณาจักรสุโขทัย (See Wikipedia and The Ancient Settlements of Sukhothai by Srisaka Vallibhotama)

Yom River - the main tributary of the Nan River (itself a tributary of the Chao Phraya River). The Yom river has its source in the mountains of Phayao. Leaving Phayao, it flows through Phrae and Sukhothai as the main water resource of the both provinces before it joins the Nan River in Nakhon Sawan, "The Yom river and its tributaries drain a total area of 23,616 km² of land (called the Yom Basin) in the provinces of Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Phichit, Phrae and Lampang" (See Wikipedia)

tributary - a smaller river that flows into a larger river (See Wikipedia)
confluence - a place where two rivers of bodies of water meet together (See Wikipedia)

Ping River - a river that starts in Chiang Mai Province and flows through Chiang Mai town and then flows though the provinces Lamphun, Tak, and Kamphaeng Phet. At the confluence with the Nan River at Nakhon Sawan it forms the Chao Phraya River แม่น้ำปิง (See Wikipedia)

Chao Phraya River - the major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the centre of the country. It runs through Bangkok, the capital city, and then empties into the Gulf of Thailand" แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา (See Wikipedia)

ancient - very old ที่เก่าแก่ ที่โบราณ
wisdom - knowledge gained over a long period of time from experience (that gives important insights into how the world works)  ปัญญา,  สติปัญญา, ความเฉลียวฉลาด
ancient wisdom - very old knowledge (that gives insight)

Ancient wisdom eases the dry-out.

drought - a period when there is very little rain or water in an area (See Wikipedia) ความแห้งแล้ง

As drought hits much of the country, two provinces are still planting crops busily.

idle - not being used ซึ่งยังไม่ได้ใช้การ
land lay idle - land is not used (for any purpose such as farming)
shortages - when there are not enough goods for people to buy การขาดแคลน
water shortage - not enough water

While more than half of the country's farming areas lay idle during the dry season due to water shortages, about 10,000 families in Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet are growing a new rice crop in April.

belief -  a strong feeling that a person has that something is true or real ความเชื่อ
ancient beliefs - very old beliefs
paddy - rice after it has been harvested from the field  ข้าวเปลือก

By following ancient beliefs about water management, the farmers in the two provinces say they have had no water shortages over the past 10 years and are able to continue growing their paddy even as the rest of the country suffers from drought. Jaroon Sukpan, chief of tambon Nongjik in Sukhothai's Khiri Mat district, said the village was affected by water shortages for a long time as the water level in the Yom River normally dropped during the dry season.

divert - make travel in a different direction, along a different route เปลี่ยนเส้นทาง
divert water - take water from a river or waterway, and make it travel in another direction to another place
cope - to deal successfully with a difficult situation รับมือ รับมือกับ (See glossary)
cope with shortages - deal with or handle difficult situations 
spark - 1. start, begin; 2. a small bit of fire coming out of a large fire or flames 
conflict
- a fight; an angry disagreement between people or groups ความขัดแย้ง  ความไม่ลงรอยกัน
sparked a conflict - started a fight or angry disagreement between people

The villagers decided to divert some of the water from the Ping River in Kamphaeng Phet to cope with the shortages but this sparked a conflict with the people there as they also needed the water.

bid - an attempt to do something ความพยายาม
resolve - to solve a problem, or to find a satisfactory way of dealing with it แก้ไขปัญหา  หาทางแก้ปัญหา
common - done or shared by two or more people ที่ร่วมกัน

In a bid to resolve their disputes, communities finally decided to sort out their differences and discuss a common water management plan.

talks - negotiations, formal discussions of problems between different sides in a conflict in order to solve the problem
positive - good ที่ดี ในแง่ดี สิ่งที่ดี hopeful and confident, or giving cause for hope and confidence ซึ่งมองในแง่ดี
results - what is produced in the end by an activity or task
positive results
united -
bring or tie together into one whole or unit
network - a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
united our network
coordinator
- someone whose job is to organise the various parts of an activity and make sure that all the people involved work well together ประสานงานกัน ทำงานร่วมกัน ผู้ประสานงาน

"The first 10 years of talks was difficult. But the more we worked together, the more we saw positive results. Since 2010, we have united our network and everybody is happy with the water management," said Mr Jaroon, coordinator of the Klong Tho Thong Daeng Water Network.

wisdom - knowledge, useful things that you know
derived from - coming from, taken from, produced from  (use one thing to make another thing)
wisdom derived from the Sukhothai era
diverted - caused something to change direction เบนเส้นทางเดินน้ำ
copper - copper metal
gravity - the natural force that makes things fall to the ground or run downhil (See Wikipedia)

Klong Tho Thong Daeng is wisdom derived from the Sukhothai era some 700 years ago. People at that time diverted water from the Ping River through big wooden pipes made from big logs, each held together with copper wires, or thong daeng in Thai. The water was sent via sub-canals to the paddy fields using the law of gravity.

canal - a passage, route or waterway for water made by people (man-made) not by nature (rivers, streams), man-made channel for water (See Wikipedia)
network of canals
irrigate - bring water to a place from far away
irrigate farmland
built a network of canals to irrigate their farmland
Using the knowledge of the ancient Sukhothai people, the villagers have built a network of canals to irrigate their farmland.

sluice -
a narrow waterway or water channel, controlled at the beginning by a gate (See Wikipedia)
sluice gate - the gate that controls the flow of water through a sluice
reservoir
- a place to keep and store water for future use
dyke -
a wall to prevent water from entering a place
retain - to keep; not lose or let go รักษา
retain water - keep water in one place 
distributed - made available to people

Sluice gates were constructed on main canals to control water levels. Moreover, more than 1,000 small- and medium-sized reservoirs and dykes have been built to retain water. The 171km of waterways can send water to Kong Krai Lat, the farthest district, in three days. For tambon Nong Jik, the water is diverted from Klong Yai Sam Kwang in Kamphaeng Phet and distributed to more than 1,000 sub-canals leading to the paddy fields. Some of these canals are improvements on those dug since the Sukhothai era.  Nong Jik is one of 20 tambons in Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet provinces which are benefiting from the water network of Klong Tho Thong Daeng. The network provides water to 100 villages in the two provinces, covering an area of 216,418 rai.

decade - a period of ten years ทศวรรษ, ระยะเวลา 10 ปี
construction - the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
seed - many small things made by a plant that can be put in the ground to grow more plants เมล็ด
seedling -
a young plant that has grown from a seed
rice seedlings
arid -
a very dry place without rain and few plants

Somsak Saneket, 46, a Nong Jik farmer, said he had returned to his 15-rai paddy field 10 years ago after spending more than a decade in Bangkok working in construction. He is now busy diverting water from a small canal into his paddy field where the rice seedlings he planted last month are growing. Next to his land, another farmer is clearing his field for the next rice crop.  "This place used to be dry and arid," Mr Somsak said. "I can't remember how long ago it was. It was like that when I was born.

plant a crop - put seeds in the ground to start growing a crop
plant a rice crop
plant two rice crops a year
decent - has acceptable standard or quality
hardship - when life is difficult and unpleasant (usually due to a lack of money)
lived in hardship

But things have completely changed. I can now plant two rice crops a year and make more money. If there was no decent water system here, I might have lived in hardship until I died.

charge - to accuse someone officially of committing a crime ตั้งข้อกล่าวหา
service charge
fee - an amount of money that you pay to be allowed to do something ค่าธรรมเนียม, ค่าตอบแทน, ค่าบริการ
fund - to provide money for something เงินทุน กองทุน
fund - to provide money for something ให้เงินทุน
have less chance of
accessing the water network

Network coordinator Sing Udomket, 53, said that all water users must pay a service charge of 5 baht per rai of land. The fee will be used to set up a fund, part of which will be drawn to give to farmers who have less chance of accessing the water network. Some rice produced from the project and other necessary items have been donated to hilltribe people.

inform - tell people about what happened, report new information to people who don't know about it yet
inform us in advance
discharged
the water level discharged from Bhumibol dam

proper - right
select a proper crop - select the right crop
match - to look the same as or very similar to something else ซึ่งไม่คู่ควร
effective - producing the result that was intended works well, gets the job done ได้ผลดี

"For each crop, we have worked closely with the Department of Royal Irrigation. It will inform us in advance about the water level discharged from Bhumibol dam so we can select a proper crop to match the water amount available," Mr Sing said. He said the area has had no problem with either droughts or floods because of its effective water management system. The department usually opens water Klong Tho Thong Daeng water sluice gate to farmers between December and March.

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