A worker walks across the spillways at Pa Sak Dam in Lopburi province. The spillway should be completely full of water at this time of year. It's the rice planting season and farmers depend on the water to irrigate their crops.
This is the rice planting season in central Thailand. Rice is a big deal here. In one form or another, it's eaten at almost every meal. Thailand is the world's leading rice exporter, rice is very important not only for sustenance but also economically. Anything that disrupts rice production has serious implications for the whole country.
And drought certainly disrupts rice production. We're supposed to be in the early weeks of the rainy season except it's not raining. We've had a little rain in Bangkok, but there's been almost none upcountry and Thailand's reservoirs, which provide water for rice farmers and Bangkok are running dry.
The recreational area in the reservoir behind Pa Sak Dam. The land mass in the background is normally submerged. The water level is more than 10 meters below normal for this time of year.
About half of the rice crop is already planted but the government is asking farmers to suspend any more planting until the rains come. Farmers in central Thailand typically get two rice crops a year harvested. The government has already told them not to plant a dry season crop because there isn't water to irrigate it. The decrees will cut many farmers income by at least half.
A farmer collects wild vegetables from the bottom of a khlong (canal). At this time of year, this khlong is usually full of water. This year it's dry. The farmer said he could never remember this canal being completely empty.
Thailand has a sophisticated and ancient water management system. One of the country's riches is its reliable water. Water resource management has turned Thailand into one of the leading food exporters in the world.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP...