Minister of Agriculture & Cooperatives prepares 8 drought countermeasures

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BANGKOK – The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is implementing a one-billion-baht anti-drought program, in order to address the issue in 22 provinces along the Chao Phraya River.

The campaign falls under one of several major policies for 2016 being discussed during the ministry’s recent meeting with related agencies.

According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, the anti-drought project contains eight measures. The agency is currently executing the first measure, which encourages farmers to refrain from cultivating off-season crops, while instead introducing drought-tolerant crops, livestock or fish farming.

Other measures include debt payment period extensions, temporary employment for farmers in public units and establishing an emergency drought-mitigation project in each affected community. Currently, at least 385,000 agricultural households have shown interest in participating in the campaign.

Officials also seek to improve water-use efficiency among members of the public, increase water supplies, improve quality of life for those in drought-hit areas, and implement other minor assistance measures.

Another important topic tabled at the meeting was the amount of water reserves in drought-hit areas. The Royal Irrigation Department said the combined volume of water in dams across 22 provinces along the Chao Phraya River is 4.2 billion cubic meters. The department said the majority of water supplies in this region are being used for public consumption and maintaining ecosystems. The remaining volume is used for sustaining agricultural activities.