Among the rural population of Thailand, hill tribes are a disadvantaged and vulnerable group of society, being largely dependent on agriculture for income and employment. Poor rural hill tribe people are caught in the vicious cycle of being unable to access the very services and opportunities, which have the potential to alleviate their poverty. Services such as gainful employment, adequate nutrition, infrastructure, communication skills and knowledge are largely inaccessible. Hill tribe people face a higher degree of poverty than other groups in Thailand. The majority are engaged in agriculture as their main economic activity. Household-based handicraft production is a secondary minimal source of income. Hill tribe people are among the most disadvantaged groups of the country.
A young woman from the Karen hill tribe.
Production outputs are very limited, because they lack access to education and they also lack opportunities for systematic skill development, income and employment. Hill tribe people traditionally prefer to live in small villages rather than being integrated into large communities. It is extremely difficult to extend services to a large number of these widely scattered villages, as it requires a high investment in terms of personnel and financial resources.
Hill tribe village.
The possibility of enhancing essential services to meet the needs of hill tribe people has been limited. Thus, there still remains a large area not covered by government development policies, service agencies and infrastructure. Agricultural services and infrastructure have catered to the needs of “progressive” farmers in accessible areas and not the thousands of smaller farmers in the inaccessible areas.
Payak Khuruasamphan looking at a hill-side crop.
The aim of IHO Global is to assist these smaller hill tribe farmers by providing them with up to date knowledge of “progressive ” farming techniques. Our goal is to set up a training centre in the mountains of rural Chiang Mai and establish demonstration crops and animal husbandry production models.
Project Manager Payak Khruasamphan and his wife Pear Paw.
Payak Khruasamphan, project manager says:
“For nearly 30 years now, all of my adult life, I have lived and worked in and around many tribal villages in Northern Thailand. During this time, we have seen so many people in the villages that are very poor and under the oppression of this extreme poverty. Their income depends on their crops, and while they work very hard, they have very little scientific knowledge about agricultural techniques. Because of this, they spend most of the year and much effort on crops which are harvested only once.”
Children of a hill tribe village.
“In addition, entire families are usually involved, including children as young as 8-10 years old, thus depriving them of the opportunity to attend school. Sadly, as they grow up, some of these bored youngsters turn to drugs or sexual proclivity, putting them at risk of addition or serious disease. This puts further stress and challenges to their families who must then care for them, sometimes witnessing an even sadder early death.”
“We have taken much time to think about and to plan over these past few years for this project. We want to set this training centre as a fully operational place where individuals can “learn & do” so that people in the various villages will be able to come down from the hills and learn together.”
“We believe this kind of a project will be a great assistance to the people in the villages as they can come to learn the theory here, and then with our on-site assistance, practice what they have been taught. In this way, they will bring back valuable information and knowledge to their own villages for the benefit of all who live there.”
Project manager speaking with IHO Global director Suzanne Whately.
“We propose to purchase 7 rai of land in Chiang Mai (just over a USA acre) where we will build the training centre and establish demonstration crops and animal husbandry. A stable is required to house the pigs, cows, water buffaloes, ducks and chickens associated with the project. The project manager will also have his residency in a small, simple building adjacent to the training centre. This centre will include a large room for lectures as well as a small office and communications centre where our organisational committee will meet.”
“In order to conduct this project, we will need a 4×4 truck. We propose to buy a Isuzu as this has proven to be a reliable and rugged vehicle in this region. We will use this truck to transport the feed, seeds and other necessary items to conduct this project.”
Lime trees cultivated in concrete pots in Chiang Mai.
1. Chiang Mai Agricultural Development Project will grow 200 lemons (lime) trees in the off-season. The trees will be cultivated in large cement containers for 2 years before the first harvesting. Each successive season the trees will produce more fruit. This technique is based on a well established and proven model in Chiang Mai and produces a high yield of fruit. The fruit will be sold for the local market.
2. Aquaculture plays an increasingly important role in food security and the economy of Thailand. Freshwater aquaculture is mainly for domestic consumption. Small-scale freshwater aquaculture is still very crucial in providing the rural poor with high quality protein from fish for local consumption. Hill tribe trainees learn to farm fish in dug-out earth ponds with low-cost production methods. Batches of young fish are then transferred to earth ponds and fed, raised, harvested and sold for the local markets. Under skilled management, this can become a robust income generating business that produces a cash flow every six months. Not only men are involved in aquaculture and related activities. Women also participate, particularly in activities related to feed preparation, feeding, harvesting, processing, accounting and marketing.
3. Chiang Mai Agricultural Development Project will use a ‘progressive’ technique for raising pigs. The technique is based on the Royal Thai Farming Initiative for Sufficiency and Economy. This technique for pig production is designed and approved for small farm production. 15 piglets will be grown for a period of six months in concrete pens then sold on the local market. There will be 5 workers employed for daily attendance to pigs. The workers will be hill tribe people. Workers will be both male and female gender.
Royal Thai Initiative on Sufficiency and Economy.
The Scope and Impact of this Project:
- 20 new trainees will take part in three day training seasons throughout the year.
- 20 hill tribe villages will participate in Chiang Mai Agricultural Hill Tribe Project.
- Income will be generated by the Chiang Mai Agricultural Development Project for training future generations of hill tribe people.
- Scholarships will be provided for many students.
- More money will be available in the villages to impact other small businesses and enterprises.
- A learning and training centre be available and accessible to the remote hill tribe people to learn progressive agricultural techniques.
- This project will provide income for the hill tribes and promote self-sufficiency and sustainability.
IHO Global knows the value of a local resident who understands how to break the cycle of poverty among the poor hill tribe people. IHO Global fully supports teaching hill tribe people enterprising skills that will generate a good return for their labours.
We need your help to expedite the process. Your donation will help the poor and give them hope.