BANGKOK – The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) has forecast that the drought crisis will cause as much as 119 billion baht in damages by the end of this year.
Director of the UTCC Center for Economic and Business Forecasting Thanawat Polwichai said a recent survey by the university revealed that the drought has driven up water expenses incurred by farmers, eating into their profits.
The number of farmers currently in debt has risen by 12% from last year. The survey indicated that the average agricultural household owes 167,000 baht in either formal or informal loans. Mr. Thanawat added the drought crisis will likely continue to ravage Thailand’s agriculture until June.
The damage on rice, cassava and corn fields is projected to increase to 78 billion baht, while the business sector stands to lose around 41 billion baht to water shortages. The Center has revised down its forecast on Thai economic growth to 0.85% from 3.5%, due to the impact on the agricultural and business sectors.
Most survey respondents agreed that Songkran holidays should be shortened to conserve water, but maintained that it is still important to celebrate the water festival.