More than 20,000 villages in 56 provinces of Thailand have been stricken with drought since February, said the Thai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department in an interview with the Bangkok Post.
The optimal temperature to produce lychee is between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. However, however, the temperature reached as high as 40oC. This could be detrimental to Chiang Mai’s lychee industry, which occupies more than 3,200 hectares.
“The damages are huge, even though farmers have tried to battle the heat using water sprinklers,” Chiang Mai Longan Farmers Cooperative chairman Adulchai Intakhao tells Asia One News. He adds that while water sprinklers helped, the water pressure damaged young fruits.
Water levels in major rivers have fallen by up to 5m, limiting water supply and preventing boat transports and trade barges from passing through. Receding water in reservoirs also threatens several agricultural industries, dropping to less than 50%.
The dry spell has hurt the output of other crops like corn and rice.
Thailand recently has been experiencing extreme meteorological swings, with last year’s flooding preceding the current drought. In 2010, a similar drought caused $450 million in crop damages. After a year, the 2011 flooding caused $40 billion in damages across all sectors of Thailand’s economy.
Efforts to mitigate the heat have been employed by the Thai government. The Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation (BRRAA) and the Royal Thai Air Force have performed 11 rainmaking operations since February 20. Five royal rainmaking operation centers have been established to produce rain and fill up reservoirs to a sufficient level.
- Baiya, B. “Heat kills Chiang Mai lychee crop”. Asia News Network. 27 April 2012. <Retrieved from http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20120427-342359.htmlon 5 May 2012>
- Bangkok Post. “Drought drying up rivers”. Bangkok Post. 2 May 2012. <Retrieved from http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/291369/drought-drying-up-rivers on 5 May 2012>
- Bangkok Post. “Drought threatens industrial estates in Rayong”. Bangkok Post. 5 May 2012. <Retrieved from http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/291860/drought-threatens-industrial-estates-in-rayong on 17 May 2012>
- Haskins, J. and Michelle Geis. “Rapid climate change threatens Asia’s Rice Bowl”. Eurekalert. 12 April 2012. <Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-04/bc-rcc041212.php on 5 May 2012>
- NNT. “Royal rainmaking operation launched to alleviate drought”. Pattaya Mail. 17 May 2012. <Retrieved from http://www.pattayamail.com/news/royal-rainmaking-operation-launched-to-alleviate-drought-12728 on 17 May 2012>