Ministry says El Niño set to cut rainfall
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Ministry says El Niño set to cut rainfall

A photo shows the dried up Yom River in Phichit province in March 2022. (Photo: Sitthipoj Kebui)
A photo shows the dried up Yom River in Phichit province in March 2022. (Photo: Sitthipoj Kebui)

About 16.5 million rai of farmland across the country will be affected by decreased rainfall caused by the El Nino phenomenon this year, according to the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry on Tuesday.

The ministry's deputy permanent secretary, Apai Sutthisang, said the ministry is concerned about the upcoming dry season, as El Nino's effects will pick up in November.

According to the Royal Irrigation Department's forecast, by the end of this year's rainy season in November, the nation's 35 major reservoirs will hold about 22.8 billion cubic metres (m³) of water -- about 13 billion m³ less than last year.

If current rain trends continue, by November, the nation's four biggest dams, namely Bhumibol Dam in Tak, Sirikit Dam in Uttaradit, Kwai Noi Bamrung Daen Dam in Phitsanulok and Pasak Jolasid Dam in Lop Buri, will only hold 6.8 billion m³ of water -- 7.7 billion m³ less compared to last year.

As a result, around 16.5 million rai of arable land will be affected, 7.3 million rai of which are located across the 22 provinces in the Chao Phraya Basin.

To prepare for the dry season, authorities have come up with some plans, he said.

First, he said, authorities will promote alternative crops which are more drought-resistant, such as beans, in lieu of a second crop of rice.

Second, local authorities will seek alternative water sources to help irrigate affected farmlands, he said.

The ministry will also work with relevant agencies to promote alternative jobs in areas where a second rice crop cannot be planted.

The last measure, he said, concerns saving water during the next rainy season, said Mr Aphai.

Meanwhile, water levels at Lam Takhong Dam in Nakhon Ratchasima have dropped to their lowest in a decade, with the dam holding just 133 million m³ of water or 42% of its capacity.

According to Yutthasart Teerawattana, director of the dam's water irrigation and maintenance department, the situation has affected an area of 277,000 rai across 10 villages.

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