Drought continues in Ubon Ratchathani

Four weeks ago I wrote about the drought that Thailand was experiencing. You can read it here. I do not know the current situation for the rest of Thailand but I am saddened to report that not much has changed here in Ubon Ratchathani.

I have just had a 48 hour visit from two friends of mine this weekend just gone. They are both Kiwis and come from a country where the word drought is hardly ever heard unless they are listening to an Aussie farmer crying into his beer at the pub. On day two of their visit I took them and my kids out to the village for a look around. Both these blokes are ex farmers and have lived in Thailand for many many years so there wasn’t much new and exciting that I could show them. We were however all shocked by looking at the effect the drought was having.

Many farmers have replanted while many others haven’t even bothered yet. We saw many crops that will die if they did not receive rain in the next few days. Here is a photo showing an example of this.

When we arrived in the village we were told that my brother in law was out working on our farm (we have a share farming arrangement) so we dropped in on him to have a look and say hello. He had pumped some water from a low lying paddock into the one next door so that he could dig up the soil and level it. As we watched him and had a look around we also noticed some dark looking clouds rolling in. Imagine our delight for the locals when by the time we left it had started to rain.

Here is Khum, my brother in law hard at work in the rain.

We left with rain falling all around us and pressed on to a late lunch at my friend Tronds place. It continued to rain all afternoon so I was really disappointed when I found out the next day that just minutes after we left the village it stopped raining and didn’t start again!

I worry for all the farmers around here who live from harvest to harvest. There just aren’t enough jobs in Bangkok for everyone so what will happen with a lot of them is that they will approach the local loan sharks for some cash to tie them over. They will need to use their farm deeds as collateral and as most of the interest rates charged are illegal, unethical and downright stealing many will find themselves homeless by this time next year.

14 responses to “Drought continues in Ubon Ratchathani

  1. ditto in my wife’s plot in amphur daetudom. terrible year, complete write-off

  2. Ironically, I visited NZ for the first time, early last year and saw nothing but rolling, brown crispy hills along the east coast. It made for interesting photos, but is not what I expected.

    I hope relief comes for all those who need it, very soon.

  3. As you will see from my blog , i live in Nakon Sawan. I’ve been here for 7 years and there has never been a problem with water. Until this year.
    Many farmers have been unable to re-plant for the last couple of months. Things are getting a little desperate as there is no sign of a change in the drought conditions. It has rained over the last few days but not enough to make the slightest difference to the water table.
    Hopefully there is some rain on the way in the near future.
    I’ve added you to my blogroll and look forward to reading your posts in future.
    Tom…………

  4. My forage seed farmers (many different forage species and cultivars) are just getting enough moisture to grow their crops and should get a bumper seed yield in October-November if storms don’t occur then. It is a pity more farmers in Ubon Ratchathani don’t grow my forage seed crops but they have never been interested. Farmers not only gets cash for the seed but fresh forage in other times of the year for their own livestock.

    They seem to just like rice and cassava. Now there is not enough water for the rice and a bug is eating up huge areas of cassava in the northeast.

    Always a problem in monculture agriculture.

  5. Well Memlock we do have droughts in NZ. The east coast regions of both islands are particularly vulnerable, namely the districts of Poverty Bay, Hawke Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago.

    I can well remember in the mid 1980s there was a long-term drought in South Canterbury and North Otago. I was an agricultural scientist with Grasslands DSIR and the government called on our help in its drought-relief programme. We provided the seeds and know-how on drought tolerant pasture species like tall fescue, cocksfoot and chicory.

    It is now pouring down at home in Ubon. Lets hope the rains come and soak the soil and then waterlog and flood the paddies for at least a late wet season rice crop. Maybe there won’t be a lot of rice for sale and export but lets hope there is enough for home consumption.

    August and September are usually the months of highest rainfall in Ubon.

  6. Well , our rainy season finally got here and just in time, of course our farmers plant casava and suger cane and these can go without water for a while it was the corn farmers who needed it just when they got it , hope you get rain soon . Malcolm

  7. Pingback: Dry times more then 40 years ago « Life in rural Thailand

  8. I met a lovely thai woman from this area while on vacation who was visiting her sister in Koh Samui….she spoke little English and I was asking about their farm and if they had access to groundwater….do they drill for water around there, and would it be feasable to offer such a gift to their farm? We dryland farm in Montana and I know the risks involved in weather dependence, however, as was stated earlier, they have to pawn their land for operating costs as we do, however their whole operating costs barely cover the cost of a tire for our tractor…it is amazing.

    • I would have thought that drilling would be cheap – but extracting it (pumps, pipes etc) would be to expensive. Any locals here have any thoughts on this?

  9. Doea anyone know what Thai for cassava is?

  10. Cassava is มันสำปะหลัง (Mun sup ba rung)

  11. Yes! Rain at last! May be able to salvage something after all

  12. Bulldog, it is good news for sure. Need a lot more but so far so good. Reminds me of a favourite song of mine.

    The galahs they know that it’s that time
    Upside down on the power lines
    Making a family on their minds
    Raining on the plains again

    Can you hear it drumming on that old tin sheet
    No better sound to make you fall to sleep
    No dream of tonne crops and big fat sheep
    Raining on the plains again

    Haven’t seen the Warrumbungles all day
    There’s a fair chance so the old blokes say
    Reminds of the start back in 58
    Yeah thunder on the plains again

    Looks like the break that we’ve been looking for
    And the dogs are doing donuts on the lawn
    Chasing their tails they can smell the storm
    Raining on the plains again

    You can’t make money out of dirt that’s dry
    Bring on the rain from that stormy sky
    Grab a beer! From the fridge
    And raise it high
    ‘Cause it raining on the plains again

    The last time the dog did that
    Couldn’t get to me ute for the fences and logs
    Couldn’t sleep with noise of the mozzies and the frogs
    What a storm on the plains again

    The galahs they know that it’s that time
    Upside down on the power lines
    Making a family on their minds
    Raining on the plains again

    You can’t make money out of dirt that’s dry
    Bring on the rain from that stormy sky
    Grab a beer! From the fridge
    And raise it high
    ‘Cause it raining on the plains again

    You can’t make money out of dirt that’s dry
    Bring on the rain from that stormy sky
    Grab a beer! From the fridge
    And raise it high
    ‘Cause it raining on the plains again

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