Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives General Chatchai Sarikulya stated that the drought problem in 2017 was less severe than the conditions that occurred in 2016, owing to the efficient management of water resources, in accordance with the Strategic Plan on Water Resource Management, 2015-2026.
General Chatchai said that from 16 December 2016 to 18 April 2017, only Sa Kaeo province in the East was declared a drought-stricken area in need of emergency assistance. The affected area includes three districts and 85 villages.
The three districts are Aranyaprathet, Khok Sung, and Ta Phraya. More than 400,000 acres of farmland has been damaged, and 6,106 farmers have been affected. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has already provided financial assistance to help ease the hardship of these farmers.
The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation on 19 April 2017 announced that Sa Kaeo was no longer suffering from drought. Since then, no more provinces have been declared drought-stricken areas in need of emergency assistance. In comparison, on the same day in 2016, a total of 27 provinces, with 136 districts and 4,911 villages, were declared drought-stricken areas.
According to the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the drought problem is less severe this year, because the Government has been able to increase the volume of water availability to 2,069.30 million cubic meters.
Moreover, it has also increased irrigation areas, while expanding village waterworks to cover 5,911 villages. The Government’s water resource management has been carried out with greater efficiency, as well.
During the recent flood season, water was stored in various water sources for use in the drought season. For example, much of it was kept in kaem ling ponds, as part of a well-known flood-control project initiated by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
In addition, rainmaking operations, carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives since 3 March 2017, focus on adding water to the dams with low levels of water. They also aim to bring about soil moisture in agricultural areas, reduce haze pollution, and ease drought conditions.
The Cabinet on 24 January 2017 approved several measures to enhance efficiency in water use, increase the volume of usable water, and develop and rehabilitate drought-hit farmland. The measures also emphasize knowledge dissemination on drought risk reduction.