“Grow what you eat, eat what you grow”, the self-reliant farming motto.

“Grow what you eat, eat what you grow”, the self-reliant farming motto
Developing Rural Territories through Business and Knowledge: The Thai experience with the OTOP and CLC

Thai rural development programs are implemented based on King Bhumibol Adulyadej ideas on economic development summarized in the so-called ‘Sufficiency Economy Philosophy’. Those principles are the base of the New Theory Agriculture, focused on generating self-reliance in three levels: the household, the community and the nation. Household self-reliance means a self-sustaining farm warrantying self-consumption based on a water pond, a field for crops to sell, and a house.

Hence, the farmer has access to markets while safely faces contingencies. “Grow what you eat, eat what you grow. Make what you use, use what you make.” But, beyond a very respected royal philosophy, Thai public policies for rural development support a national network of Local Scholars, or “Pratch Chao Bann”, who manage and develop Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in order to down-streaming the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. Among many other public and private services at village, sub district and district levels that looking for citizen empowerment through self-management of the financial, natural and cultural resources of the Nation.

Participants of the Learning Route “Developing Rural Territories through Business and Knowledge: The Thai experience with the OTOP and CLC,” had a first hand experience of the protagonist role of several wise women and men devoted to share their knowledge and improve the livelihoods of poor farmers all over Thailand.

Sometimes their motivation is farmer debt relief, like Mr. Ahmnaj Maiyodklang—leader of the Wang Nam Keaw District CLC—did in order to change their fellow farmers’ mind-set enabling them to address their poverty core causes through Buddhist principles.

Mr. Somboon Wedsuwan, Local Scholar at the
MOA Life Science and Art Institute
In other cases, the effort to improve farmers’ lifestyle based on mind, body and spirit integration linking natural, organic agriculture with beauty and health—following Japanese Mokichi Okada’s philosophical and spiritual teachings—becomes a Life Science and Art Institute like the one Mr. Somboon Wedsuwan manages in the Thai province of Lopburi.

Regarding the CLCs, “one of the main lessons from this Learning Route—highlighted Ms. Alessandra Richter, High Commission of the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation High Commission, to the participants—is that the Thai State trusts the farmer’s practical knowledge, their know-how, to the point of multiplying it as a public policy.”

Up to US$40 million dollars are annually invested so those self-taught and self-reliant outstanding farmers can provide technical assistance for land and rural organization management to other small-scale farmers.

Mr. Ahmnaj Maiyodklang, leader of the Wang Nam Keaw
Community Learning Center in Thailand
The Prach Chao Baan Outstanding farmers “may not have academic certificates but they are multiplying their knowledge and opening ways for other people to develop”, Richter concluded.

If you want further information on this Learning Route visit www.asia.procasur.org contact Mr. Ariel Halpern at ahalpern@procasur.org. And follow us during the Route trip at: www.facebook.com/procasur.asia