PITSANULOK – An irrigation pump was stolen from a farmer in the drought-stricken province of Pitsanulok in northern Thailand last night.
Wanpen Kaewkongsap, 58, said she installed the Japanese-made Kubota pump last week to drain water from a canal into her rice fields in Bang Rakam district.
Although she normally checks on the pump daily, Wanpen said she was unable to yesterday because she was attending a monk ordination ceremony in the village.
"This morning my neighbors said my Kubota had been stolen, so I called the village chief and police," Wanpen said. She said the thieves unscrewed the water pump from its wheel and carried it away from the farm, adding that the contraption is very heavy and requires at least two adult men to move.
"I am shocked, I am sad, and I am really upset, because I work on the farm alone," Wanpen told reporters. "My husband has been staying home because of his illness for many years now, and it costs so much to farm these days." She estimated that a new water pump will cost between 20,000 and 30,000 baht.
Toi Decha, another rice farmer at Lai Mue See village, said it was the first time in years that a water pump had been stolen.
"It happened sometimes, but that was really long time ago," Toi said. "Now that my neighbor had her Kubota stolen, I cannot leave my pump in the farm on its own. As soon as I finished pumping water, I will have to carry it home, or have someone watch over it."
Police said they are investigating the incident.
The wheel left that used to hold up Wanpen's water pipe in Pitsanulok, 20 July 2015.
Nearly half of Thailand’s 77 provinces have suffered from a severe drought this season. The Department of Disaster Relief and Prevention announced today that recent rains have eased the situation, with the number of drought-inflicted provinces now down to nine. Those provinces include Pitsanulok, Nan, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phrae, Chonburi, Sukhotai, Pathum Thani, Pichit, and Phetchabun.
The drought, which is the severest in the last 30 years in some districts, is particularly devastating for rural rice farmers, many of whom rely on loans to cultivate their crops and are trapped in annual cycles of debt.