NE farmers defy request not to pump irrigation water from the Chi River

Farmers in Thailand’s northeastern province of Maha Sarakham are defying requests from the provincial irrigation office, to conserve supplies for consumption, not to pump water from the Chi River.

The prolonged lack of rain has caused the river’s water level to drop to such a critical point that irrigation officials are concerned that there may not be enough water to supply water treatment plants to produce tap water. Despite the advisory, rice farmers continue to pump water from the river to save their crops, many of which have already withered under the scorching sun.

The Chi River rises in the mountains of Phetchabun province and flows through several northeastern provinces, including Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et and Yasothon, over a distance of about 800 km.

Hopes that water would be released from Chulabhorn, Lampao and Ubonrat reservoirs have been dashed as water levels in the reservoirs have also dropped drastically.

Mr. Thanee Raksaphol, a farmer in Tambon Kerng, told Thai PBS that he had no choice but to pump water from the river to save the last of his rice after most of his crop had already perished.

He said most farmers are defying the request not to use water from the river because they need to save their rice crops, their only source of income.

An irrigation official said that farmers in the Chi River basin had also defied requests not to plant second crop due to the water shortage. Additionally, he reports that most farmers ignored advice to postpone main-crop cultivation, which usually starts in May, due to the late arrival of the rainy season.



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