Thai government’s rainy day plan: Combating drought and El Nino

Image courtesy of Srettha Thavisin via Facebook.

Confronted with the detrimental impacts of the El Nino weather phenomenon, the Thai government is mobilising to tackle the decreasing rainfall and drought plaguing the nation’s agricultural sector, according to Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

Following a special Cabinet meeting yesterday, PM Srettha highlighted the government’s commitment to the welfare of the agricultural community and the nation at large. The primary focus areas include market expansion, enhancing farming productivity, reducing production costs, boosting exports, and ensuring sufficient food supplies for domestic consumption.

The 61 year old prime minister emphasised the importance of accounting for the impacts of El Nino in devising measures to aid the farming sector. Furthermore, he directed the Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister to gather comprehensive information on the phenomenon and its effects.

The government will discuss El Nino’s impacts in the upcoming Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 13, with follow-up measures to be implemented thereafter to address concerns. The prime minister also announced a two-day inspection trip to northeast regions, including Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, and Nong Khai, to assess the situation and listen to local concerns.

On another note, PM Srettha encouraged Cabinet members to work closely with government officials, recognising their crucial role in transforming government policies into tangible results. He urged for a fair and transparent promotion and career advancement process for officials.

PM Srettha also drew attention to the government’s transport infrastructure policy, which encompasses the comprehensive development of land, waterway, air, and rail transport. For passenger convenience, an integrated Bangkok mass-transit ticketing system will be implemented, and an appropriate fare policy will be considered within the existing budget.

Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chair of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), voiced the private sector’s concern over the escalating drought situation. Kriengkrai noted that rainfall from January to July was significantly lower across all regions, with a drastic 40% decrease in the Central Plains Region’s usual rainy season rainfall, reported Bangkok Post

Kriengkrai warned of critically low water levels in nationwide dams, particularly in the Central Region and the West, comparable to the severe drought experienced in 2015. He urged the government to prioritise tackling the drought and its impacts on agriculture.

Kriengkrai also called for an acceleration of reservoir construction projects in the East, such as the Khlong Wang Tanod Reservoir in Chanthaburi, to prevent water shortages in industrial plants.

Echoing Kriengkrai’s sentiments, Visit Limlurcha, vice chair of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and president of the Thai Future Food Trade Association, predicted that El Nino would severely damage the agricultural sector. Crops most likely to be affected include rice, cassava, rubber plants, maize, oil palms, and fruit.

Visit alerted to the potential severe impacts of El Nino on sugar production in Thailand and India, and sugarcane harvesting in Brazil, which could trigger a dramatic surge in global sugar prices.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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