Harvesting of the 1997 main paddy crop, which normally accounts for 85-90 percent of the countrys annual output, is completed. The output for this crop is estimated at 17.84 million tonnes, lower than the earlier target of 18.18 million, due to the damage to crops caused by reduced rainfall in various parts of the country. The aggregate output in 1997 is provisionally estimated at 21.8 million tonnes slightly higher than the previous year and about 6 percent higher than the average for the previous five years. The 1997 maize production is estimated at 3.9 million tonnes, some 500 000 tonnes below the previous years crop.
Planting of the 1998 secondary rice crop has started; early prospects are unfavourable due to the lower level of water supplies in the Bhumbol and Sirket reservoirs. Officials are concerned by the number of farmers planning second paddy crops encouraged by the rising prices despite the looming water shortages. Rice output from second crop paddy this year had been officially forecast at 2.8 million tonnes from four million rai (640 000 hectares) of paddy fields, but according to official report, as of January planted area had soared to five million rai (800 000 hectares).