Lowest rainfall in 30 years prompts RID to tighten reins on rice cultivation

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BANGKOK, 10 June 2015 – The Royal Department of Irrigation (RID) has revealed that the off-season farming has left only 3.8 billion cubic meters of water for agricultural purposes during the May – October period, while rainfall hits a 30-year low.

A meeting of the RID’s committee to monitor and analyze the nation’s water management revealed that despite government warnings, more than six million rai of land was farmed in the Chao Phraya and Mae Glong river basins. RID Director-General Lertwirot Kowattana said that agriculture activities during the drought crisis has consumed 1.2 billion cubic meters of water.

The four national reservoirs include the Bhumibol Dam, Sirikit Dam, Pa Sak Jolasid Dam, and the Khaew Noi Bamrung Dan Operation and Maintenance Project. They have a combined 3.8 billion cubic meters left for agricultural use, falling short of the department’s target of five billion cubic meters.

Reservoirs continue to sustain the off-season farmland. However, rainfall has been unable to replenish water levels. The RID recorded the lowest rainfall in 30 years.

The department has urged farmers of 4.2 million rai that have yet to begin planting rice to cease water consumption for agricultural use for 40 days, and wait for greater rainfall in mid-July.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has been instructed to inform farmers across 22 provinces in the Chao Phraya river basin of the government’s water policy.