Thai farmers ask spirits for rain to end crippling drought

first_imgIn this July 2, 2015 photo, a caged cat, a part of rural Thai ceremonies praying for rain, looks out as villagers parade in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. Under the scorching sun, dozens of Thai villagers, dressed in flowery shirts and traditional costumes, paraded the white cat caged in a bamboo-woven basket door-to-door and let neighbors splash water on the feline, while chanting an ancient tune: “Rain, rain, come pouring down. We barely had any this year. Without rain, our rice will die.” (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) Sponsored Stories How do cataracts affect your vision? Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   “If the main crop’s produce is damaged, even 10 or 20 percent, it means the amount of rice will drop drastically,” said Chookiat Ophaswongse, the association’s honorary president. “If there’s still little rain from now, I’m afraid it will make quite an impact on next year’s export figures.”He said that Thailand’s competitiveness against rival exporters, such as Vietnam, “which have less impact from the drought than Thailand, will be affected.”Meteorologists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA say 2014 was the hottest year on record since 1880, when Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) — a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades.The reason involves El Nino, a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects weather worldwide. This year, NOAA says, El Nino has an 85 percent chance of lasting through winter 2015-2016.In Ban Lueam, a drought-plagued rural district 340 kilometers (211 miles) northeast of Bangkok, several hundred farmers did not have any choices but to start growing their rice and hope for the rain. Top Stories “Every year in the past, in June and July, in every part of the country — the north, the central or the northeast — farmers would have started planting their rice,” said Sompong Inthong, the permanent secretary at the Agriculture Ministry. “The real damage will be with those who have already planted but there’s not enough water. We have to look at how we can help them.”The Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department have sent a fleet of propeller aircrafts on more than 3,000 flights since March to increase precipitation by cloud seeding, an artificial rainmaking technique spearheaded by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Despite the high rate of success, it did little to fill the dams.Together with Vietnam, Thailand is one of the world’s top rice exporters. But because of the drought, the Office of Agricultural Economics estimates this year’s main crop will decrease by 11 percent, or about 24 million tons from the average of 27 million tons per year.The Thai Rice Exporters Association says at least 3 million tons of off-season rice has disappeared from the stock since the beginning of the year due to the drought. The main concern, however, is the main farming cycle, which begins in May and is harvested as early as October. BAN LUEAM, Thailand (AP) — Under the scorching sun, dozens of Thai villagers, dressed in flowery shirts and traditional costumes, parade a white cat caged in a bamboo-woven basket door-to-door and let neighbors splash water on the unlucky feline, while chanting an ancient tune: “Rain, rain, come pouring down. We barely had any this year. Without rain, our rice will die.”It’s a desperate plea to the god of rain, in the belief it will hear the cat’s cry and answer the farmers’ prayers.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *