The weather will be kind to some farmers and nasty to others every year, and this year rice farmers around the U.S. are experiencing extremes. Those in the Mid-South and Texas have had more than enough rain while rice farmers in California are hurting because of drought.
California rice farmers aren’t alone because one of the world’s biggest rice production areas of Thailand is experiencing an extreme drought, and the government is enacting anti-drought measures in a hope that rain will show up soon.
Water for rice fields in the Chao Phraya River Basin of the central region of Thailand is needed for the use by the population rather than growing rice. Reuters reported that Thailand’s Agriculture Minister has “requested” that farmers delay rice planting until August. Reports are that 22 of the 76 provinces of the area are fighting drought conditions.
It isn’t a toothless request for delayed planting. The government’s Irrigation Department is reducing water supply because of an exceptionally low water level in the Chao Phraya reservoir. Reductions in water being pumped from the reservoir are hopefully enough to keep water available to area residents until Aug. 10, by when rains are expected to resume. Reports indicate there is a fairly high water table in the area; therefore, many new wells are being drilled.
Two irrigation water cuts have been put into effect with the expectation that rice planting on 320,000 hectares will be delayed. A government compensation package to the farmers has been a big discussion, and there are mixed reports on just what farmers might be receiving.
A decline in rice production in Thailand is expected to have an effect in general on world rice prices, which actually declined from the first of the year to present.