Rice and the Climate Crisis: Thai rice farmers struggle against climate-driven challenges

It has been another difficult harvest for Manas Takfaeng.

This farmer has seen plenty of seasons in his years in the fields. But now as his retirement looms closer, watching another crop suffer is hard to comprehend.

The 67-year-old is an ordinary small-hold rice grower whose family has worked the land in Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, for generations. 

The landscape has changed over the years, and now his fields flank busy roads and factories. So too has the climate.

Drought has stunted Thailand’s agricultural belt in recent years. But 2021 was meant to be different, and so it was. It was wet, but in many areas thirsty for water, the intensity and inconsistency of rain dashed hopes of a bumper harvest.

It means, yet again, the production of Thailand’s most important crop has been compromised, causing market turbulence, food security concerns and leaving millions of Thai households facing economic difficulties.

“This year, we have a lot of water.  The rice doesn’t produce grains well and the yield will be less than in the years that have less water,” Manas said.

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Jack Board