By Khemarin Pensaengon, MAIDS 2015-16 Alum
"...In the water there are fish, in the fields there is rice..." This famous line from the ancient inscription by Rapee Sagarik is still heard nowadays, but in reality, Thai farmers’ way of life has changed from time to time. I had the opportunity to attend the Innovative for Inclusive Development (IID) course for my second trimester in the Chulalongkorn MAIDS program. For the course, I interned at the Ban Chanote, Klong Yong-Lantakfa Community Enterprise, which is located in one of the most fertile areas of the Central region in Nakhon Pathom province.
After brainstorming together with various stakeholders, the idea of connecting the consumers with the producers emerged. The cooperative wanted to hold activities that related to farmers’ livelihoods. On the project day, the cooperative invited people from various areas to participate in the activities and began with a mini-marathon from the cooperative to Lantakfa Temple. While running through the rice fields, it was intended that participants would feel more deeply involved in nature, which one cannot always feel in Bangkok. It was followed by many other activities, including visiting a pomelo farm, rice tasting, tom-tom with Thai folk song, and selling organic fresh vegetables and fruits. The final session was a seminar on the topic “Why do we have to have rice?” paneled by experts from various fields.
This day of events that I helped organize stimulated all of the participants to think further about their health, especially related to consuming non-chemically treated products. Moreover, it was conducted to help support small farming communities who are green producers in Thailand. Following the project, I found myself reflecting on how the practices I observed at the cooperative could be developed more to improve many people’s way of life not only regarding health, but also on issues related to the environment.
The president of Ban Chanote, Klong Yong-Lantakfa Community Enterprise, Nantha Prasarnwong, said “The cooperative wants to further strengthen our identity to attract urban people to visit us. I have been tried to promote organic products as a solution to current health problems [in society].”
“Activities such as this event will contribute and benefit all in society, including rice farmers” said Khanit Chinnawong, Nakhon Pathom Royal Irrigation Project director. “With fertile land all year around, Lantakfa is an important area to produce rice for the market. Moreover, the community can be further supported to produce various kinds of product to meet the consumers’ demands.”