Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives gears up for upcoming drought disaster

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BANGKOK, 24 September 2015 – Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Gen Chatchai Sarikulya said that the cabinet meeting yesterday approved eight assistance measures for rice farmers in the basins of the Chaophraya and Mae Klong Rivers who could be affected by the coming water crisis due to droughts.

The measures, proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC), will begin on Oct 1, 2015 with a view to getting all sectors – agriculture, industry, services and others – ready for the coming water crisis which could drag into next year. The measures will ensure no conflicts will rise over the water shortage problem among different sectors.

The eight measures comprise twenty five activities, bringing together various ministries to work collaboratively under an integrated plan to be proposed to the cabinet for consideration next week.

Main focus of the measures are distribution of production factors to reduce costs of production, suspending or extending debt-installment period, creating alternative job opportunities for farmers, running water-saving campaigns, dredging new water sources, offering loans for local communities, and conducting rainmaking operations, etc.

Eighteen rainmaking operation aircraft will be mobilized from areas with normal situation to areas suffering from water shortages – mostly in the northern and the northeastern provinces. The operation has started from today.

Responding to the cabinet’s approval, Gen Chatchai revealed the MOAC would hold an action plan drafting meeting on Sep 25. Initially, it will hold onsite visits, until Oct 7, to raise public understanding about the measures. On Oct 8, MOAC administrators will have a VDO Conference session with governors of all provinces for updated water situation. The measures will be officially implemented during Oct 9-23.

The ministry will also set up provincial and national water managing centers responsible for reporting water situation and progress of the measures to the ministry at 6 p.m. on a daily basis. The center will be kicked off on Nov 1.