Saturday, October 31, 2020

Decision to keep people in fields has stunted Thailand’s growth

Nov 13. 2017
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Re: “‘Smart farmers’ face learning curve”, The Nation, yesterday.

The Nation: “Buoyed by his success, [farmer] Kanaporn has now taken a step further in experimenting with coffee, corn and also home-stay services. 

‘I have lately registered my participation in the Young Smart Farmer project in the hope of getting mentors and advisers. Under this project, I will receive training in the coming January,’ he said.” 

Sounds like a good programme. As in all walks of life, young people are the future. Anything that can be done to promote innovation, good practices and release from the attitude that because your family has “always done it this way” it must be the right way, is a step in the right direction.


That’s hard to do when the majority simply refuse to accept what they do is not right; ingrained methods that are inefficient remain stuck with these farmers. If they actually tried to implement these ideas they would work, but they whinge it’s “too hard” and that the old methods are much easier for them. Not being able to see the bigger picture, since they can’t be bothered to do any research, doesn’t help. When someone actually does these things it benefits them financially, as reported of other active, younger farmers that tried something new. But it’s much easier for many farmers to blame the government and expect it to continually bail them out, than it is to do something for themselves.


When people are producing something, banks should get involved with consultation. Thirty years ago, I was in China and our bank showed up. They looked at our assembly line and asked why it was moving so slowly.  They did calculations showing how much we were losing.  The same needs to happen now in Thai farming. It does not seem like anyone is serious about making money. There is a world food shortage. Now is the best time to be a farmer. 


Now is a good time to be a massive agribusiness.

It is not, and never has been, a good time to be what are little more than subsistence farmers. The decision to keep so many people “in the fields” was a huge mistake, condemning vast numbers of people to a life of near/actual poverty and blighting the countries economic, political and social development.

The worst, violent, consequences of that policy will reveal themselves in the coming years.

The consequences have been felt for decades, with poor farmers willing to vote in whoever promises them the biggest handout, and corrupt governments unwilling to take measures that would destroy their voter base.



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