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Assoc Prof Somporn Issawilanon Reveals Surging Paddy Prices and Looming Water Crisis in Chao Phraya Basin

In the fertile stretches of the Chao Phraya basin, an interesting development is afoot, capturing the attention of both farmers and academics alike. At the heart of this agricultural drama is Assoc Prof Somporn Issawilanon from the Knowledge Network Institute of Thailand. With a sparkle in his eye, Somporn discusses how paddy prices have soared, now fetching between 12,000-13,000 baht per tonne, a significant leap from the cost of production hovering around 7,000-7,500 baht per tonne.

This price surge is not just a statistic in a ledger; it has real-world ramifications. Imagine the fields stretching far and wide across the Chao Phraya basin, where farmers, inspired by the profitability in the air, have taken to their plows with renewed vigor, planting rice far beyond the government’s calculated forecasts. An astonishing extra 2.5 million rai, to be exact, has been brought under the spell of the rice cultivation wand.

Yet, as Somporn weaves this tale, he issues a word of caution; a shadow looms on the horizon. The government, with its hands tied, finds itself in a predicament, unable to dissuade farmers from embarking on the planting of a third rice crop. This stubborn pursuit of agriculture bliss, however, sets the stage for a potential clash not of swords, but of water pails. With the specter of El Niño whispering of dry times ahead, a battle for every precious drop of water is anticipated.

Somporn further paints a picture of the ramifications, reaching beyond just the paddy fields, touching the lives of those in the bustling electronics industries of Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya. Their thirst for water might find no respite. And let’s not forget the fruit orchards that line the Chao Phraya’s banks, which might soon find themselves bracing against the salty intrusion of sea water, as authorities grapple with an insufficient supply to serve as a bulwark.

A whisper of validation for Somporn’s concerns comes from the figures presented by the Smart Water Operation Centre of the Royal Irrigation Department. Data spills out like water from an overfilled bucket, showing that farmers have indeed planted the second crop of rice on up to 5.54 million rai, significantly overshadowing the government’s initial allocation plans. This overzealous planting spree has led to a forecast of 5.92 million rai being utilized during the dry season, a testament to the farmers’ relentless spirit.

The narrative then takes us on a detour to the majestic dams of the Chao Phraya basin – Bhumibol, Sirikit, Kwae Noi Bamrung Daen, and Pa Sak Jolasid. These colossal giants, currently holders of 62% of their combined capacity, seem like silent sentinels watching over the unfolding drama. The Royal Irrigation Department, with a blend of hope and concern in their calculations, reveals that nearly half of the water prepared for farming has already been distributed, a figure that foreshadows the challenges ahead.

In a parallel storyline, the committee tasked with monitoring the nationwide water situation convened, only to discover an alarming trend – farmers across the board had exceeded the government’s agricultural plan by 40%, with those in the Chao Phraya basin overshooting by a whopping 80%. This revelation, shared by Thanet Somboon, underscores the urgencies faced.

As we reach the climax of this tale, we find Thawit Lorphoonpol, a name well-respected in the circles of rice milling, confirming the very essence of our story. With a nod, he acknowledges that the rising paddy prices have indeed been the siren call leading farmers to plant with an enthusiasm perhaps unseen. Whether it’s the non-jasmine rice fetching up to 13,000 baht per tonne or the jasmine rice shining bright at 15,500 baht per tonne, the message is clear – the land is alive with the promise of prosperity.

So here we stand, at the edge of a season of abundance shadowed by the potential of scarcity, a narrative woven with the hopes, fears, and ambitions of those for whom the land and water are not just resources but the very essence of life. The story of the Chao Phraya basin is far from over; it’s a saga that continues to unfold under the watchful eyes of the sky above and the earth below.


  1. JasmineF February 8, 2024

    The irony is breathtaking. Farmers chase profits at the potential expense of their own water supply. Isn’t it common sense to prioritize water conservation over short-term gains?

    • RiceKing99 February 8, 2024

      It’s easy to talk about conservation when you’re not the one worrying about your next meal. Higher paddy prices mean a better living for these farmers.

      • WaterGuardian February 8, 2024

        But at what cost? If we deplete our water resources, there won’t be any farming left to talk about. We need sustainable practices that secure both our present and future.

    • JasmineF February 8, 2024

      I get that, RiceKing99, but surely there’s a middle ground? Farming practices that both maximize profit and minimize environmental impact must exist. We can’t afford shortsightedness in agriculture.

  2. TechieTom February 8, 2024

    This could spell disaster for the tech industry in the area. Water scarcity hits us all. It’s time for industries and agriculture to collaborate on water-saving technologies and practices.

    • AgriAdvocate February 8, 2024

      True, but don’t forget, agriculture is the backbone of our region. The tech industry has more resources to invest in innovative water-saving solutions. Maybe it’s time they led the way?

  3. FarmerJoe February 8, 2024

    As a local farmer, I can tell you all we’re doing is trying to make the most of a good situation. These high prices are rare, and who knows when we’ll see them again.

    • EcoWarrior February 8, 2024

      I understand wanting to seize the moment, FarmerJoe, but have you considered the long-term environmental cost? What if there’s not enough water next season because of overuse now?

      • FarmerJoe February 8, 2024

        It’s a tough call, but we often have to live season to season. I wish there were easy answers. Maybe there’s a way for us to learn water-saving techniques that don’t cut into our profits too much.

    • BettyBoop February 8, 2024

      It’s all well and good discussing this online, but what are we actually doing to help these farmers find sustainable practices? Maybe it’s time for some of us to volunteer our time or resources.

  4. HistoryBuff February 8, 2024

    Hasn’t this cycle of boom and bust in agriculture been repeating throughout history? We never seem to learn. It’s always profit over sustainability until it’s too late.

  5. OptimistPrime February 8, 2024

    Maybe this crisis could serve as a wake-up call. It’s an opportunity to innovate and come up with solutions that benefit both the agriculture and tech industries.

  6. SaltyFisherman February 8, 2024

    What about the fisheries and the impact of saltwater intrusion? This isn’t just a farming or industry issue; it’s going to affect us all in different ways.

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