Thai Rak Thai’s farming projects ‘struggling’

Thai Rak Thai's farming projects 'struggling' - Bangkok Post, April 16, 2007
...Fish farming ponds in ponoh schools lay abandoned, and herds of cows and goats had fallen to half their original number when first introduced, the source said.
The source cited a lack of understanding of people's traditional livelihoods as the main reason for the failures.
The projects were initiated by the ministry with little account for people's needs, he said.
''We gave them catfish, cows, and the like. But they showed little interest in raising them.
''When they raise goats, they just let them roam free and feed themselves instead of doing what we have instructed them to do in a systematic way,'' the source said...


[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from the early days of the Thai internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

Thai Rak Thai's farming projects 'struggling'

PIYAPORN WONGRUANG

Farming projects introduced to improve the economy in the three southernmost provinces are struggling to bear fruit because officials lack understanding of the region's traditional farming methods, a source has said.

A recent internal review by the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry showed that schemes introduced in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat by the Thai Rak Thai government were plagued by problems.

Fish farming ponds in ponoh schools lay abandoned, and herds of cows and goats had fallen to half their original number when first introduced, the source said.

The source cited a lack of understanding of people's traditional livelihoods as the main reason for the failures.

The projects were initiated by the ministry with little account for people's needs, he said.

''We gave them catfish, cows, and the like. But they showed little interest in raising them.

''When they raise goats, they just let them roam free and feed themselves instead of doing what we have instructed them to do in a systematic way,'' the source said.

The project started in 2004 with a budget of 936 million baht. The projects included commercial farming, career development, expanding palm oil plantations, improving irrigation, developing rubber farming and opening fruit sorting centres.

According to the ministry's internal report, the palm plantation expansion and fruit sorting projects had encountered the most problems.

Only 1,300 tonnes of longan had passed through the 20 fruit sorting centres, and only about 4,000 rai had been converted into palm oil plantations, just one tenth of the project's target.

It cited daily violence as one reason preventing new palm oil farms from expanding.

Paitoon Somkeo, a southern native and scholar at the Local Development Institute, said people in the South did not have as many economic problems as officials presumed.

He said the region was rich in natural resources and most residents were more or less self-sufficient.

He criticised the projects for being too focussed on political aims.

''They did not even know that ponoh are not just schools. They also are spiritual places,'' said Mr Paitoon.

The source said that following the report, the ministry has begun revising plans for projects on 293 farms this year.

Next year, it will divide development plans for the areas into two main groups, those serving people's needs, and those following agencies' functions, he said.

''Through these plans, we also hope to help forge reconciliation among the people there,'' the source said.
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