BANGKOK — The world’s largest rice exporter, Thailand, is facing major losses to its next crop of rice and a worsening water crisis because of the worst drought in nearly two decades.
Chanchai Rakthananon, president of the Thai Rice Mills Association, said Tuesday that rice output for the next crop cycle, ending in August, could fall to as little as two million tons from a previously forecast five million tons.
“It didn’t rain when it needed to rain,” said Angsumal Sunalai, director general of the Thai Meteorological Department. He blamed global climate change for the problem.
Chalit Damroengsak, director general of the Royal Irrigation Department, said there would normally be three to four monsoon storms a year during the annual rainy season, “but farmers will be lucky if there is one this year.”
Thailand produces about 20 million tons of rice annually in two to four crop cycles, exporting about 9 million metric tons and consuming the same amount.