August 8, 2017 / 11:05 AM / 2 years ago

Thailand approves flood relief measures worth $48 million

A general view shows a flooded area in Sakon Nakhon province, Thailand. REUTERS/Dejbordin Limsupanark

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s cabinet on Tuesday approved 1.6 billion baht ($48 million) in relief for farmers hit by floods in the north and northeast.

Twenty-nine people have been killed and some 700,000 hectares of farmland damaged by flooding in 36 of Thailand’s 77 provinces, with damages estimated at $300 million.

Thailand is the world’s second-biggest rice exporter and some of the areas hit by flooding are used for growing rice. The government has said the floods could impact rice production during the off-season production cycle starting mid-August.

However, the country’s rice export association has said the floods will not likely affect Thailand’s export target of 10 million tonnes this year.

The relief measures approved on Tuesday will be distributed to some 560,000 farming households.

In 2011, widespread floods killed more than 900 people and caused major industrial disruption, cutting economic growth to just 0.1 percent.

When Thailand’s junta took power in 2014, it proposed a 10-year water management plan to avoid a repeat of the 2011 floods, but it is still under review.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn had urged the government to work out long-term water management plans, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters on Tuesday.

Opponents of the military government last week accused the government of responding slowly to the flood crisis, adding to simmering political tensions.

Reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat, Pracha Hariraksapitak, Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre

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