“In the past, we had enough water to grow rice,” says farmer Sa-Ing Suriya in the Thai province of Chachoengsao. But that was no longer the case. The rainy season is getting shorter. The past three years in particular have been a tough time for Sa-Ing Suriya and many other rice farmers in the province. “For example, it happens that” there is too much rain in one month and none in the next, “reports the 44-year-old. Chachoengsao is located in central Thailand, a good two hours’ drive east of the capital Bangkok. Parts of the province consist of the lowlands of the Bangpakong river basin. Almost 1.3 million people live there from the cultivation of rice and fruits as well as from fishing. According to the environmental organization Greenpeace, the 7,900 square kilometer area is not only known for Thai jasmine rice, but is also considered one of the most fertile river basins in the world. Coastal erosion is one of the biggest problems. According to environmentalists, it is already foreseeable today that this garden of Eden will be massively threatened by climate change: not only due to flooding and droughts, but also due to the penetration of salt water and the crumbling of the coasts. “Thailand is one of the countries where coastal erosion is one of the biggest problems,” says Thai Greenpeace activist Tara Buakamsri in Bangkok. “In general, Southeast Asia is one of the regions most affected by climate change but least prepared for it. »Ever more extreme weather conditions caused by climate change have serious consequences – for food production and the people who make a living from it. Although Thailand is still the largest rice exporter in the world, you can feel the longer-term effects. “In agriculture, farmers are increasingly having to deal with uncertainties,” says Tara Buakamsri. A study shows that, for example, rice production in some regions of the northeast has decreased by about 50 percent in the past ten years. This is a vicious cycle for many rice farmers in Thailand. They are among the poorest sections of the population anyway. They are forced to apply for loans to re-order their fields. However, if they are then unable to grow as much rice as in the previous year, they have to borrow more and more money and become heavily indebted. “It is a cycle that they cannot escape”, criticizes Tara Buakamsri. Rice farmer Sa-Ing Suriya also reports harsher conditions. Especially if it doesn’t rain enough or not at all in their Chachoengsao province: “If you don’t have a water source near the farm, you have to have the water brought in.” And that means higher costs and less earnings. Since they receive almost no information about climate change from the local authorities, the rice farmers have joined together on a small initiative. 

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