April 14, 2015

Thai corn output to remain unchanged despite acute drought
 
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By F.E. OLIMPO
 
Thailand still expects to produce 4.8 million tonnes of corn thisyear while battling its worst drought ever in more than a decade.
 
The Thai Interior Ministry said eight of the country's 76 provinces are going through intense dry spell, with 31 other provinces remaining at risk.
 
The government has set around 6.8 billion baht (US$208.65 million) to install water pumps and provide mobile water tanks in affected areas, up from 430 million baht (US$13.19 million) last year.
 
"This year's water levels are the worst in 15 years but we have managed our water supply so people can be confident that there will be no problems regarding water shortages," said Lertwiroj Kowattana, director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department.
 
The Agriculture Ministry says around 160,000 hectares of Thai rice farms would bebadly hit bythe drought, which has also affected palm oil production. Thailand recently imported 50,000 tonnes of crude palm oil due to domestic shortage.
 
While the drought could cut rice production byover 30% in the current crop season, Thailand'sOffice of Agricultural Economics doesn't anticipate any major changes in the country's corn output this year.
 
Unlike rice, corn doesn't need much water. The crop is relatively tolerant to water deficits, especially during its ripening stage.
 
But since local production is traditionally not enough for its domestic use, the country is forecast to import 600,000 tonnes of corn this year. Along with soymeal,cornis a component in livestock feeds.
 
Thai feed demand this yearis seen rising to around 18 million tonnes, 7%more than in 2014. Industry observers attribute the increase to growing boiler production, which is expected to rise by 10%.
 


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