Rice fields to double as catchments
The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) is preparing two rice planting areas in the Central Plains, which will double as water catchment areas with a combined capacity to retain up to 1.5 billion cubic metres of water.
The move is in anticipation of the rainy season that the government expects to begin later this month.
The department has advised rice farmers across low-lying areas to begin planting seeds earlier than usual, so rice crops can be harvested before the planting areas are repurposed as water retention zones, said RID director-general, Thongplew Kongchan.
Mr Thongplew said Phitsanulok's Bang Rakam rice fields -- which stretches for some 382,000 rai in the upper part of the Chao Phraya basin -- will be used to retain water from August onwards, which means that rice farmers should have begun to plant their crops since April.
"In the lower parts of the Chao Phraya Basin, a cluster of 12 paddy fields covering 1.15 million rai will be used to retain water from September onwards," Mr Thongplew said.
"This means farmers should start planting immediately,'' he added.
The RID said that in addition to preventing excess water from upstream from flooding Bangkok and its vicinity, the retained water can also be used to prevent water shortages in the upcoming dry season.
Mr Thongplew said weather forecasters are expecting the rainy season to commence in about a week's time, but the frequency and intensity of the storms are expected to decrease at the end of this week.