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Thai cabinet approves US$154m budget for drought-hit areas
[BANGKOK] Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Wednesday that his government had approved a 5 billion baht (US$154 million) budget to alleviate drought in the country.
Thailand is battling drought in eight of 76 provinces. Earlier this month the irrigation department warned that the country will suffer its worst drought in more than a decade this year.
"The cabinet approved a 5 billion baht budget to use for water management," said Mr Prayuth. "The funds are left over from 2014 and some will come from the 2015 budget. It will be used in drought-hit areas and for other water-related emergencies in all 77 provinces of Thailand."
The funds will be used to provide mobile water tanks and to install water pumps in affected areas, he added.
According to the latest report from the Office of Agricultural Economics, drought will cut major rice exporter Thailand's 2015 off-season crop by over 30 per cent.
The off-season rice is grown between November and April after the main crop is harvested. It needs irrigation as there is little rain during that period.
Mr Prayuth said aid for drought-hit areas would focus on the agricultural north and northeast. Thailand will next month enter what is known as its hot season.