Government recruits at the grassroots level to get knowledge to farmers.
Tricks of the trade: Government's 'khru yang' programme taps local knowledge to help new growers in Northeast by Walailak Keeratipipatpong
Varunee Limkijsomboon had no experience with para rubber but tried planting the crop anyway in 2004 with free saplings from the government.
The main job of a khru yang is to share experience and knowledge of rubber with new planters, to help them determine soil quality and use proper fertilisers, especially during the first two or three years of planting, which are quite important,’’ says Mrs Varunee.
Six years later, her 10-rai rubber plantation - land that was previously used to grow low-paying cassava - started giving yields, providing the Udon Thani native with both a satisfactory income and invaluable knowledge.
Now she is a certified khru yang or rubber expert and is helping the government turn her neighbours into rubber planters too.
My enthusiasm for learning new things and being kind of an easy-going person might be why they picked me for the job," said Mrs Varunee.
The 46-year old planter is widely known among people in Tambon Khon Yung of Kut Chap district, where many villagers have opted to grow rubber to cash in on the upward price trend of the crop.
The main job of a khru yang is to share experience and knowledge of rubber with new planters, to help them determine soil quality and use proper fertilisers, especially during the first two or three years of planting, which are quite important," says Mrs Varunee.
The khru yang programme is an initiative of the Office of the Rubber Replanting Aid Fund (ORRAF) with the aim of developing trainers for new planters in its expansion projects.
"Some planters just ignore the advice of not tapping young trees, wanting only to get as much money as possible from this growing market," said Mrs Varunee.
She gives advice based on what she has learned from government officials. For a start, trees should be at least six years old and have a minimum circumference of 50 centimetres. "Premature tapping will deteriorate a tree, and the planter will obtain a smaller volume of latex."
Growing rubber has become something of a craze among northeastern villagers ever since rubber prices started rising from last year's average of 100 baht a kilogramme to more than 170 baht this month.
The Agriculture Ministry first promoted rubber in the region in 1988, covering 200,000 rai in hopes the crop could add a splash of green to the arid land in addition to generating income for the poverty-stricken region.
From 2004-07, the ORRAF added one million more rai in the Northeast and the North. Another 800,000 rai is planned nationwide from 2011-13.
The government offered free rubber saplings, fertilisers and technical support to encourage planters. Mrs Varunee was one of a few who decided to dig up their cassava and eucalyptus crops and replace them with rubber.
The price of cassava was very low at that time. Plus we did not have enough workers to harvest the crop, and my husband was too old to manage it himself," she said.
The free saplings filled up six rai, and she used her own money to buy more to cover 10 rai.
Mrs Varunee's crop reached maturity last year, producing more than 1,000 kilogrammes of rubber sheets, which she sold high at 171 baht/kg on average.
However, to maintain the good return, she said tapping must be done every other day, with the cuts in the bark made in accordance with ORRAF guidelines.
This is important information for a khru yang to share with other growers," she says.
The ORRAF kicked off the khru yang programme last year with the goal of cultivating 12,000 such experts by 2013.
Director Songtham Jansup said that with the rapid expansion of planting, these experts would help the agency instruct new planters and train them how to nurture their trees.
The agency projects at least 160,000 new planters will participate in the 800,000-rai expansion between now and 2013.
Khru yang, most of whom are veteran planters, and villagers will receive joint training, with site visits organised by officials from both the ORRAF and the Agriculture Department.
A total of 1,200 applicants have already applied to become khru yang, and the ORRAF expects another 10,800 by 2013. There is no budget for salaries, although a small stipend is provided
But Mr Songtham said money is not a big consideration for these experts, who want only to help their neighbours.
Mrs Varunee is now responsible for advising and visiting the farms of 100 planters in three tambons of Kut Chap district _ Khon Yung, Sang Ko and Tan Lian
(Source: Bangkok Post, Tricks of the trade, Government's 'khru yang' programme taps local knowledge to help new growers in Northeast, 28/02/2011, Walailak Keeratipipatpong, link)
trade - a job, especially one which needs special skill; occupation อาชีพ
tricks of the trade - the special skills that people in a skilled "trade" need to know
local - in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
tap - use
tap local knowledge - use local knowledge (in a project to achieve goals)
para rubber - the rubber tree, the main source of natural rubber (See Wikipedia)
saplings - young trees ต้นอ่อน
share - allow or invite other people to use things that you have, to have or use something at the same time as someone else ใช้ร่วมกัน
share experience and knowledge - when people help each other and give each other their experience and knowledge about some task or activity
planters - farmers who plant and grow crows เกษตรกรผู้ปลูกพืชไร่
determine - decide what will happen กำหนด
determine - to officially find out or decide something ตัดสินใจ ชี้ขาด
proper - actual or real จริง (พระราชพิธีพระราชทานเพลิงพระศพจริง)
proper - belonging to the main or most important part เป้นส่วนหนึ่ง
fertilisers - chcmicals or natural substances that help plants grow, food for plants (See Wikipedia)
plantation - a large farm where crops such as tea, coffee, cotton, sugar or, in this case, trees, are grown ไร่ นาขนาดใหญ่
land - to get or achieve something good, especially in a way which seems easy or unexpected ได้รับ
cassava - a plant used to make tapioca and also natural fuel for cars
yields - how much crop a farmer gets from farming one hectare of land ผลผลิต
native - someone who was born in a particular place ชาวพื้นเมือง
native - in the country, run by local farmers (not started by the foreign sponsored project) พื้นบ้าน
income - money that people receive from work or some other source, used for household consumption and savings
invaluable - very valuable (so valuable that value cannot be counted in money)
certified - inspected officially and verified that official standards are met ผ่านการรับรองคุณภาพ
enthusiasm - very happy and interested in being involved in an activity
easy-going - relaxed, not serious (sabay sabay)
opt - choose
cash - money เงินสด
cash in on - make money from, make a profit from
trend - a gradual change or development that produces a particular result ทิศทาง แนวโน้ม
initiative - a new action or movement, often intended to solve a problem ความคิดริเริ่ม
aim - purpose; goal, the thing you hope to achieve by doing something เป้าหมาย จุดมุ่งหมาย
expansion - when something increases in size, number or importance การขยายออก
ignore - to intentionally not listening or giving attention to something that you should be careful about ทำเพิกเฉย
circumference - the measurement around the outside of some object (imagine stretching a tape measure around something to measure it)
minimum circumference of 50 centimetres - the tree must be at least 50 cms around the outside
premature - doing it before it should be done
tap - taking rubber from the tree (by making a hole in the tree and draining the rubber out of the tree)
premature tapping - taking rubber from the tree before the time when the rubber should be taken
deteriorate - to become worse เลวร้ายลง
volume - the quantity or amount of something
latex - natural rubber, a milky white sap found in many trees, used in surgical gloves, condoms, and clothing (See Wikipedia on latex and rubber)
poverty - the condition of being extremely poor ความจน
arid - very dry
add a splash of green to the arid land
stricken - affected by serious problems ได้รับผลกระทบจากปัญหาหนักหน่วง
nationwide - throughout the whole country ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
technical - requiring special detailed knowledge (example: computers, electronics, manufacturing), involving materials, processes, and machines to do specialised work เฉพาะทาง
support - help สนับสนุน
encourage - make people interested in and excited about doing an activity ปลุกใจ
eucalyptus - a big tree with many small leaves and big hanging branches from Australia (See Wikipedia) Back in the '70s when
replace - to get rid of someone or something, and to put a new person or thing in its place เลิกให้และนำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน, หาคนมาแทน
harvest - gather in ripe crops เก็บเกี่ยว
maturity - fully grown (adult, not a growing baby or child anymore)
maintain - keep in good condition รักษา
guidelines - rules to help guide action แนวทาง นโยบาย
kicked off - started
rapid - happening quickly อย่างรวดเร็ว
rapid expansion - growing bigger fast
nurture - take care of and help grow เลี้ยงดูฟูมฟัก
participate - to take part in or become involved in an activity มีส่วน
veteran - having a lot of experience doing something ผู้อาวุโส
joint - done with someone else ร่วมกัน
training - to teach people how to do an activity or job การฝึกฝน
site - a place where something is located สถานที่
budget - an amount of money able to be spent on something งบประมาณ
stipend - a small amount of given every month or so to help with expenses
consideration - giving careful thought to something before making a decision
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