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From drought to floods and another food shortage

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Earlier this year lack of rain reduced Thailand's rice crop, then suddenly at the end of the rainy season massive floods are causing vegetable shortages.

Vegetables in a market

For many months Thailand was plagued by a long dry spell without rain.

The drought had a negative effect on crops and agriculture in Thailand (Read previous articles).

Also check out the large vocabulary for describing floods here.

The following is taken from a long article which can be read here.

Click button to listen to Food Prices Rise With Flood and rightclick to download

Prices skyrocket as floods recede: The natural disaster is only one factor in the rising cost of fresh food by Surasak Glahan


Flooding since Oct 10 has damaged much of the nation's farmland. The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has reported that fresh vegetable supplies have been cut by 30%, pushing prices up by 10-20

Kasikorn Research Center has forecast a 3 billion baht bill for damage to the agriculture industry due to flooding. If the floods continue and spread, the bill could double to 6 billion, it said.

Comparisons to last year show price increases in many foodstuffs, especially vegetables, sugar and eggs

Vatchari Vimooktayon, head of the Internal Trade Department, played down the rise in vegetable prices, saying the problem will only last a short time.

She said fresh vegetables could not be stored so it was inevitable that prices would rise when supplies were short.

We've monitored prices in stores nationwide during the flooding and haven't yet seen any unreasonable increases," Mrs Vatchari said.

She said many farmers had been forced to increase prices to cover production costs caused by flood damage.

As far as her agency knew, there were no unusual gaps between the prices paid to farmers and those offered by traders to consumers, she said.

Since many vegetables can be grown within a month, consumers will see prices returning to previous levels soon after the floods recede, she said.

However, some consumers and small retailers said pre-flood prices were already unusually high.

For example, onions and garlic prices had risen so much they were considered "luxury" items.

Mrs Vatchari said onions and garlic were mostly imported from China, and there were supply shortages due to dry spells there this year

Retailers
also said they may soon have to pass on further rises in the prices of pork, eggs and sugar.

Witoon Lianchamroon, of the non-government organisation Biothai, agreed that vegetable prices may continue to rise for a month or two after the floods recede.

Contact Buyer Beware: consumers@bangkokpost.co.th

(Source: Bangkok Post: Prices skyrocket as floods recede, The natural disaster is only one factor in the rising cost of fresh food, 30/10/2010, Surasak Glahan, link)

floods -
when water overflows rivers and covers land น้ำท่วม  อุทกภัย
plagued by - suffer from a very bad and severe problem
dry spell - a period of time when there is no rain, so it is very dry and there is no water for the crops (or in the rivers, lakes and ground)
drought - a period of time when there is very little rain and water available for farming ความแห้งแล้ง ภัยแล้ง  ความกันดาร

skyrocket - to increase very quickly ลอยขึ้นสูงอย่างฉับพลัน
recede - to move back; to move further away into the distance ถอยหลัง
natural - found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
disaster - something very bad that happens and causes a lot of damage or kills a lot of people ความหายนะ ภัยพิบัติ
a natural disaster - when some event in nature causes harm to large numbers of humans, events include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, storms, droughts, fires, epidemics, and insect infestations, meteors from outer space (See Wikipedia) ภัยธรรมชาติ
factor - a fact or situation which influences the result of something ปัจจัย
forecast - a statement about what will happen in the future based on information available now พยากรณ์
spread - to gradually affect or cover a larger area แพร่กระจาย
double - to become twice as big, twice as much or twice as many เพิ่มเป็นสองเท่า

food stuffs - different kinds of things you can eat, foods
play down - not emphasizing something, avoiding it and not talking about it (because it is not important, or at least you wish people to believe that it is not important)
inevitable - certain to happen, will happen in the future for sure, unavoidable ซึ่งหลีกเลี่ยงไม่ได้
monitored - watch carefully what is happening, to make sure everything goes well เฝ้าระวัง
nationwide - throughout a whole country ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
unreasonable - not acceptable, some action that is just too much, excessive, extreme เกินกว่าเหตุ, มากเกินไป 
cover production costs - pay for all the costs of producing the goods (so what is left over is some profit)
gaps - differences
traders - people who buy and sell things (here: vegetables)
consumers - people who buy things (individuals and families)
luxury - the best and most expensive of something ที่หรูหรา
shortages - when there are not enough goods for people to buy การขาดแคลน
retailers - store owners (who sell directly to customers)
pass on - when a producer, in turn, raises the price of goods they sell, after their costs (labour, raw materials) rise
Biothai - an NGO started in 1995 to provide information and raise the awareness of policy-makers and the public in Thailand on the subject of biodiversity (See website)


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