How will Thai rice farmers in the Chaopraya river basin survive the climate crisis when floods, droughts and rising temperatures occur more frequently and are more severe?
Addressing participants at the opening of the meeting, Ms. Chompunut Songkhao, Environmentalist, Professional Level, Policy and Strategy Section, Climate Change Management and Coordination Division (CCMC), Office of Natural Resources and Environment (ONEP) said: “ONEP gives precedence to cooperation across all sectors and stakeholders to tackle the impacts of climate change. In the study of risk and climate change adaptation in the Chaopraya pilot area, we focus on climate risk assessment and consider projected climate and socio-economic changes that will potentially impact productivity in the agricultural system in different agro-ecozones and the livelihood of farmers. Our study, carried out in cooperation with the RISK NAP project, the Southeast Asia START Regional Centre (SEA START) and Chiang Mai University, shows that the Chaopraya river basin may experience heavy rainfall, more intense storms and higher temperatures that will damage agricultural production. A long-term plan is therefore needed to secure production and the livelihood of the farmers.”
Representatives of farmers from 6 provinces in Chaopraya river basin, policymakers and implementers of agricultural agencies came together to hear and express their opinions on the risk analysis of agro-ecological systems, the potential risks to the rice farmers, proposals for future directions as well as the adaption options.
The proposed options taking present and future socio-economic and climate considerations into account include:
The reduction of rice farming areas and frequency
Alternation with higher-value rice varieties
Mixed crop farming system and development of small-scale irrigation systems
After hearing the options, the participants expressed their opinions and the challenges they foresaw, such as lack of knowledge and experience in mixed crops, land owners’ approval for the change of crops, and unsuitable soil for alternative crops. Other concerns included common direction and consistency of policies such as research, marketing and agricultural promotion, water supply-demand management, the variety of agro-ecological system-based policies, insufficient policy support for rice plantation replacement, uncertainty of the market and inaccuracy of the weather forecast.
The opinions and the challenges raised will be considered for formulation of a long-term plan in order to be able to better cope with the risks. The related governmental agencies can also use them as a basis to develop a mechanism to mitigate the risks, for example, of long-term land rental for water retention.
“As we all know, the Central region in the Chaopraya river basin is a very important rice planting area in Thailand and key to the socio-economic wellbeing of the country. However, we are also aware that climate change will likely put significant pressure on the agricultural system in the area. GIZ Thailand supports ONEP with overall climate policy development as well as on climate change planning and implementation at the subnational level. The agricultural sector has been identified as one of key priorities of the country. We work closely with our partners to contribute in a meaningful way to Thailand’s climate efforts as well as to overcome the global climate crisis”, said Mr. Heinrich Gudenus, Project Director of Risk NAP.
The assessment of the risk and climate change adaptation for a rice-based agricultural system in Chaopraya river basin (Nakhon Sawan, Chainat, Sing Buri, Angthong, Ayuthaya and Pathum Thani provinces) is conducted by SEA START Regional Centre and the faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University with support from the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning and GIZ Thailand’s Risk-based National Adaptation Plan project.
“When I was born, rice cost 1,000 Baht per 690 kilograms and gold was 800 Baht per one Baht in weight (approximately 15 grams). Now when I sell 690 kilograms of rice, I cannot buy one Baht weight of gold anymore.” A farmer from Chainat province