Drought leads to rising water costs for rice farmers

Drought leads to rising water costs for rice farmers

Rice farmers in Nakhon Sawan are being forced to buy water for 500 baht per rai as drought has hit many provinces.

Farmers with paddies that run alongside irrigation canals in the province have had to buy water for 500 baht per rai since Klong Ka Nom Jeen -- another irrigation canal that connects Banphot Pisai district with the Ping River which they regularly pumped into their rice farms -- dried up, a source said.

Meanwhile, the upper Yom River in Sam Ngam district of Phichit has also reportedly dried up, exposing the riverbed and leaving only a tiny stream flowing, which has affected agricultural activities.

The source said the Yom River flowed into the district, which is located in the upper area of the province, before running into southern areas and Nakhon Sawan. Two months ago, water was still overflowing from the river before a sudden drought occurred.

Somkiat Prajamwong, a retired secretary-general of the Office of National Water Resources, said Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has appointed the water resource management subcommittee of the central regions to monitor for water shortages especially during the dry season.

Gen Prawit also called for better water resource management and a larger budget to deal with emergency droughts, he said.

The office reported that four large dams -- Bhumibol Dam, Sirikit Dam, Khwai Noi Dam and Pasak Jolasid Dam -- are now at 55% of their total capacity, or 13,651 million cubic metres, while 2,072 million cubic metres have been consumed.

The subcommittee has been ordered to advise local agencies on management solutions and emergency plans.

Gen Prawit will visit the drought-hit areas to oversee the operations of nine drought-control measures by provincial agencies, as well as cultivation plans in the Chao Phraya Basin, and the off-season rice cultivation plan in flooded areas in Chai Nat and Sing Buri. He will also inspect the development of water sources.

While chairing a meeting of the subcommittee, he also followed up on the operations of projects such as the Bueng Boraped Pond restoration, the Klong Prem Prachakorn canal restoration, and flood mitigation plans in Phetchaburi and the Chao Phraya Basin.

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