Worst Drought in a Decade Hits Thailand

Global Business

A lack of rainfall has led to the worst drought for a decade in northern Thailand. The area’s been declared a Drought Disaster Zone. Among the hardest hit are corn farmers, who’ve seen their crops wither and die.

Worst Drought in a Decade Hits Thailand

Worst Drought in a Decade Hits Thailand

A lack of rainfall has led to the worst drought for a decade in northern Thailand. The area's been declared a Drought Disaster Zone. Among the hardest hit are corn farmers, who've seen their crops wither and die.

These rows of corn should be lush and green. Instead they’re dry, brittle and brown. Huge swathes of Thailand are experiencing the worst drought in 10 years. It’s hardly rained here in 5 months. Life is never easy. Even in a good year these corn farmers only earn the equivalent of around 1,500 US dollars. This year, they’ll be lucky to make half of that.

Thailand produces almost five million tons of corn – also known as maize – each year. Seven per cent of the world’s crop. It’s eaten as corn-on-the-cob, corn oil or popcorn – and is widely used as animal feed. But thousands of cornfields in northern Thailand have been turned into dust bowls. The area’s been declared a Drought Disaster Zone.

This is an irrigation ditch on which the farmers depend. In a good year the water would be a meter deep, up to this mark. Even in previous dry seasons it’s contained a steady flow to sustain the crops. This year it’s almost completely empty. Farmers here are now deep in debt. They’re having to borrow money to send their children to school. Soon with no cash for food, they’ll be forced to eat what little corn they’ve been able to grow.