The name of Huai Sak in Muang Chiang Rai may not ring a bell, but the remote tambon in the Northern province should soon earn some respect and increased awareness.
Villagers join forces in building a weir in Huai Sak, Muang Chiang Rai.
The entire tambon of 30 villages and 2,690 people in 612 families was recently chosen as a new model for sufficiency economy development.
The ambitious development project was initiated by Pid Thong Lang Phra Royal Project in partnership with renowned monk Phra Vudhijaya Vajiramedhi (V. Vajiramedhi) and related state agencies.
Huai Sak covers 8,198 rai of farmland, 63% of which is rice fields, 21% longan orchards and the rest highland rice and corn. Average production cost is 32,515 baht per rai per family each year.
The survey found that farmers in the area have suffered for years from a chronic lack of irrigation for crops, high debt and low productivity.
The villagers owe 79.13 million baht, or 185,735 baht on average per family per year.
Phra V. Vajiramedhi: Buddhist lessons key
Of the families, 73% are in debt, with 31% of their debts arising from loans used to purchase fertiliser, insecticide and equipment.
MR Disnadda Disakul, secretary-general of the Pid Thong Lang Phra Project, said Huai Sak is a proper model for the sufficiency economy because the tambon has the largest land area in Thailand and most villagers are not considered poor.
The project has three pivotal concepts: understanding, accessibility and development to find the root of problems.
Participants include officials of the Pid Thong Lang Pra Project, related state agencies and Buddhist gurus.
MR Disnadda acknowledged that the development process is hard because state officials have to change their mindset and thoroughly study what the community demands.
"We start by talking about the process, asking people in the area about their actual requirements, and we find that water is their first priority," he said.
The project also asked Phra V. Vajiramedhi, founder and director of the Vimuttayalaya Institute, to share his knowledge of Buddhist economics.
So far the project has run for seven months, with seven weirs (small dams) being built. Plans are afoot to build more than 100 dams over the next few years.
Phra V. Vajiramedhi said the community's development should be based on the Buddha's teachings, especially the principles of diligence, good management, ethics and morals, as well as sufficient ways of living.
He said ethics and morals would help those in the community maintain a good heart, compassion, kindness, peace and generosity while staying away from gambling and drugs.
Some 1,000 farmers and related state agencies have been trained in Buddhist economics.
Sming Pimjai, kamnan (head man) of Huai Sak, said he himself at first did not quite grasp the purpose of the project.
But after seven months of development he is more aware of the benefits, as there is increased water for consumption and agriculture production.
"With Phra V. Vajiramedhi taking part, the community is more confident in the project's viability," he said.
MR Disnadda said the model will be expanded to Chiang Mai, Nan, Phitsanulok, Trat, Sa Kaeo, Udon Thani, Loei, and Yala in order to rehabilitate forests and save water resources.
The government agreed to allocate 412 million baht during fiscal 2013-2015 to support the project.
MR Disnadda said the project if fulfilled will save the state money on rural development in the long run.
About the author
- Writer: Chatrudee Theparat
Position: Business Reporter