Cloudseeding operations are underway over the droughthit southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, with a fleet of aircraft operating on direct orders from His Majesty the King, provincial governor Wiroj Jiwarangsan said yesterday.
About 30,000 rai of rice paddies, or 10 per cent of farmland in the province, had been badly hit by the longstanding drought, he said. The cloudseeding operation commenced yesterday and is expected to produce sufficient volume of rainwater to revive the dying crop and sustain its viability, he added.
The fleet of aircraft being used belongs to the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation and is based in Prachaup Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district, which is home to Klai Kangwon Palace. It comprises four civilian aircraft – a Corsair and three Cessna, said fleet commander Flight Lieutenant Mont Suthas na Ayutthaya.
The Corsair is the largest member of the fleet, capable of carrying a tonne of cloudseeding chemicals, while the three Cessna can each carry up to 800 kilograms of cargo. The first flights were flown yesterday evening, supported by a team on the ground.
Wiroj noted that Nakhon Si Thammarat is a riceproducing hub in the South, and said that if the drought continued for another week, crop damage would escalate.
“Reduction in rice production in Nakhon Si Thammarat would result in a big drop for the region’s output,” he added.