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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 13:30 GMT
Tanzania to get rain-making help
Dead cow
A lot of cattle died in Tanzania last year because of the drought
Tanzania has been given permission to import rain-making technology from the king of Thailand, Thai media report.

The patented cloud-seeding technique involves aircraft releasing a chemical into clouds to induce rainfall.

A team of experts is to travel to the drought-prone East Africa nation to demonstrate it and train people, the Thai agriculture minister confirmed.

Last year, failed rains left millions of Tanzanians near starvation and affected electricity supplies.

The director of Thailand's Bureau of Royal Rainmaking Research said he was hopeful the technology would work successfully in Tanzania.

Graphic showing how clouds are seeded
1. Aircraft or artillery spray chemicals (often silver iodide or dry ice) into clouds to encourage tiny vapour droplets to coalesce
2. Droplets of supercooled water (liquid below 0C) coalesce into snow and melt as they fall
3. Heat released as the droplets freeze boosts updrafts, which pull more moist air into the cloud

"I think there should be no problem because there is a certain set of knowledge about rain-making that we can apply and adjust to suit different circumstances," Warawut Khantiyanan told The Bankok Post.

The Thai agricultural minister said this could be the start of exporting the rain-making project to other countries.

"Other countries have expressed interest in using His Majesty's techniques," Thira Sutabutra said.

Cloud-seeding involves firing particles, usually silver iodide, into clouds to encourage water vapour to gather round them and eventually fall as rain.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej's technique involves using two aircraft to seed warm and cold clouds at different altitudes.

This method is said to be particularly successful because it can more precisely target areas where the rain is to fall.

After a visit to Thailand last year, Tanzanian Prime Minister Edward Lowassa said he intended to import the technology to boost power generation afffected by the low levels in dams, Tanzania's Guardian newspaper reports.

Country profile: Tanzania
19 Jan 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Thailand
10 Jan 07 |  Country profiles
Thai king's patent to make rain
27 May 03 |  Asia-Pacific


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