The Office of Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Globally, 842 million people in 2011-2013 or around one in eight people in the world are likely to have suffered from chronic hunger, not having enough food for an active and healthy life. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has developed policy priorities called a “two-track approach” to address food security in two mutually reinforcing situations under emergencies. The approach comprises of long term policies on sustainable agriculture and rural development; and short term policies targeted vulnerable groups, calling into attention risks and the management of risks (UN, 2012). Thailand in the past 40 years has developed under the National Economic and Development plans which were followed the concept of “mainstream development” focused on economic development for export market. The mainstream development resulted in changing Thailand agricultural structure and production system from traditional agriculture to conventional agriculture. Turning to conventional agriculture farmers must swift from diversified farm to intensive farm. Using high technology from aboard while facing various external risks such as unstable price, climate change, high agricultural inputs, trade barriers and loss of local plant varieties and animal breeds caused farmers to high debts, profit loss and food insecurity both in household and community levels. Moreover, intensive farms require high chemical inputs lead to pesticide residues in agricultural products which pose harmful effects on consumer health. In a time of hardship situations the network of local experts has been found to find out the solutions by searching for appropriate technology based on local knowledge in order to create self-reliance farmers that would strengthen community. Local experts recommended farmers to change agricultural system from monoculture to integrated farming, promoted the use of botanical pesticides and replaced chemical fertilizer to natural fertilizer. The technology based on local wisdoms lower production costs, provide good health and conserve the environment. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has worked with groups of local experts in promoting sustainable agriculture for more than ten years. The ministry recognized the importance of local experts in transferring their appropriate technology based local wisdom to farmers and applied the king’s working concept to develop training center as one stop service for benefit of the whole community. Local experts were invited to discuss the working plan and implementation process for the project on Agricultural Development based on the New Theory principle under Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. Training farmers at local expert learning center was the core activity to change farmers’ thoughts and pattern of livelihoods in order to increase capacity of self-reliance through lowering expenses and raising income both personnel and household levels, alleviate unemployment derived from economic crisis as well as building up food security and safety for the better health. If the project was unable to implement small scale farmers might face various problems such as shifting to agricultural labor force lead to decreasing new generation of farmers, high risk to involve in debts and poverty, loss of land ownership to landlord and bank, deterioration of biodiversity, unsafe agricultural products and threaten national food security.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
His Majesty King BhumibolAdulyadej has been promoted the Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy to Thai people for more than 25 years. Sufficiency Economy is considered as guidance for all aspects of Thai society in order to cope with external shocks. The New Theory is the concrete example of application of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to the agricultural sector. The king emphasized on human development in dealing with globalization in line with natural resource restoration and conservation including reduce reliance on external inputs that lead to sustainable development. Regarding government policy in mobilizing Thai economy in accordance with sufficiency economy philosophy, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives established policy on agricultural development under the philosophy by focusing on farmers as the center of the development and set up vision on “develop agricultural sector towards a balance and sustainability”. As farmers were our priority to involve in brainstorming, planning, practice, follow up and evaluating the project the Office of Permanent Secretary proposed to the cabinet in order to approve a board of agricultural development in accordancewith the sufficiency economy philosophy. The boardwas established in 2006 and comprised of outside and inside concerned government agencies, representatives of academic institute and representatives of local expert groups. The board approved the project on agricultural development based on the New Theory principle under sufficiency economy philosophy. Main activity focused on training farmers at local expert learning centers. Local experts were invited to participate in a seminar before a launch of the project in order to discuss implementation process, regulations and budget. The Office of Permanent Secretary collaborated with successful local experts who applied the sufficiency economy philosophy in farming activities such as production, processing, marketing and arrangement of learning process on agriculture. Local expert was admired by community members and society or rewarded from government and private sectors as the best practice in agriculture. Qualifications of local expert are included ability to solve problems of himself, community and society, continuous self-development, having moral mind, capacity to share knowledge and experiences with others and having systematic thinking. The project on Agricultural Development based on the New Theory in accordance with the Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy was launched in the fiscal year 2007. Forty local expert learning centers have participated in the project and targeted 22,000 farmers. Objective was to develop and change pattern of livelihoods of targeted farmers. Provincial offices were assigned to manage budget allocated from the central government. Local experts trained and exchanged experiences with farmers. Targeted farmers were advised to analyst root cause of their problems and find out solutions regarding experiences of each local expert. After training local experts followed up their farmers in order to recommend and inspire farmers to become self-reliance.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
In the past the training on sufficiency economy philosophy to farmers organized by the government was often unsuccessful due to many reasons, namely; curriculum was not meet demands of farmers and unsuitable for sociology, technical terms were too complex and using high technology cause high costs to small scale farmers. Furthermore, farmers who passed the training have unclear understanding and knowledge was unable to apply to their ways of life. The project lunched by the Office of Permanent Secretary was considered as innovation of training supported by the government because self-reliance have been created to cope with economic crisis and the success was transferred to interested neighbors. Guideline of the project is to; 1) Local expert who has experiences on sufficiency economy obtained a chance to train farmers and took part in the whole process of the project. The main activities of local expert were to arrange training procedure by him/herself. Communication between local expert and farmers brought clear understandings and met farmers’ demands. Informal communication contributed to building trusts and acceptance among farmers and supported learning and created new knowledge including make more understanding. 2) Local wisdom and knowledge were exchanged and working process in organization must be changed by set up working committee with comprising of representatives from related agencies and local people to implement the project. Local expert learning center must arrange activity to encourage exchange of ideas among stakeholders including collect the needs, comments and satisfactions of clients and stakeholders.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
1) Objectives 1.1 To upgrade livelihoods of farmers 1.2 To increase efficiency and effectiveness in transferring knowledge on agricultural development following the New Theory to farmers and reduce official works 1.3 To expand sufficiency economy philosophy and the New Theory to farmers 1.4 To satisfy targeted farmers which is a key actor of the project and meet the needs of farmers 2) Strategies in implementation The ministry formulated policy on “Go to be a smart farmer with smart officer”. The aim was to increase production efficiency by using appropriate knowledge and technology to raise income. This policy is in accordance with sufficiency economy philosophy that emphasize on develop human resource in line with conserving natural resources and reducing reliance on external inputs. 3) Method The project has been implemented since 2007 till now and local experts were asked for collaborations with the project. The major activities are as follow: 1) Training activity at local expert learning center Local expert arranged training course to transfer knowledge on sufficiency economy to farmers or voluntary farmers who participated in project. Moreover, local expert also provided supports to forming a group network after training and follow up results of training at farmers’ farms. 2) Formation of group and network was to support trained farmers who want to forma group for economic activity. 3) process of project implementation 1. To plan project implementation related to details and budget 2. To implement project by selecting qualified farmers to attend training regarding a plan, training farmers, developing learning center and follow up training at farm level Project evaluation was carried out by concerned agencies; namely; provincial offices and Agricultural Technology and Sustainable Policy Division, Office of Agricultural Economics and university.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The project on Agricultural Development based on the New Theory in accordance with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy was to disseminate knowledge regarding to the Sufficiency Economy and working concept of the king to farmers through the local expert learning center. Farmers learned how to practice integrated farming which used less or no chemicals. Mixed farming was suitable for sociology and ecology of each specific area. Applying knowledge gained from the training benefit to farmers and consumers.Stakeholders are as follows: 1) Producers are farmers who participated in the project and resource persons at local expert learning center. Farmers applied for training and gained a variety of technical knowledge from local expert and resource persons who set up curriculum according to the needs of farmers and suit with ecology and sociology. Applying knowledge in farm enable farmers to produce safe foods for household consumption and surplus were sold for family income. Indirect benefits of applying knowledge at farm were good health due to no use of chemicals and restoration of ecology by conserving soil and water. 2) Food processing was carried out by farmers, concerned agencies and local government. Local expert emphasized on value added of agricultural products in order to manage the surplus and increase extra income. Concerned agencies acted as supervisor to support farmers to building up a group to do economic activities. At the present, there are 313 groups of farmers for food processing. The group set up production plan, processing and marketing that create income to members and strengthening group for further development towards the second step of the New Theory. 3)Sale of products is done by farmers, farmer group, concerned agencies and private sector. Farmers formed a group to produce, selling and developing product to achieve local and international standards. For example, Kunnatham Rice is organic rice produced in Yasothon province by farmer group who received supports from a local expert. Products are sold for domestic and international markets. 4) Consumers are involvetrained farmers, common farmers and people. Direct benefit to consumer is to consumetoxic free products which are good for health contributed to reducingexpenses for medical care. For indirect benefits, the government could save budget for health care project. According to above information, the project involved various stakeholders from producers to consumers. Each stakeholder gains benefits depending on his/her status.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Resources are used for the project implementation as follows: 1) Financial resources: 1.1 Budgetwas used forfour activities, namely; facilitators (provincial and central officials) to implement a project, training activity in local learning center, improvement of facility in the center and follow up activity to support farmers after training. 1.2 Local expert must invest on land, money and labors. 2) Human resources: 2.1 Related government officials provided technical support for learning center. 2.2 Local experts and their teams are applied sufficiency economy philosophy in managing farming and livelihoods. Knowledge and experiences gained from the philosophy were transferred to farmers to learn on how to be self reliance farmers. Moreover, they have to draw up management plan of the center, define curriculum, and selection of farmers. 3) Government factors: Government policy, central and provincial officials play very important role to implement the project. Central government respond for formulating policy, enacting regulation and rules, drawing clear guideline and informing project details to responsible officials including periodically follow up and evaluate the project. Provincial officials act as facilitators to assist local expert learning centers for the whole process of training. 4) Process used to mobilize the project composed of: 1. Inputs which need to use to ensure efficiency of project implementation were supports from concerned agencies such as private sector, academic institute and other local expert learning centers. 2. Processto mobilize the project can be concluded as; 2.1) Define systematic and clear action plan, structure, regulations and goal of local expert. Determining structure of authority and regulations to use as guideline and have a clear objectives including corporate with related agencies in order to reach targets. Facility, staff, curriculum and teaching materials need to continuously develop. Give a chance to community members and agencies to take part in management of local expert learning center. 2.2) Integrating group and network focused on knowledge and management in order to support the project. 2.3) Develop local wisdom of community in 3 main issues, namely; improving human capital for increasing capacity in daily life and occupations, building up social condition to create a team work in term of group and network and environmental activity focused on conserve soil, forest, watershed and wildlife animals, restore and monitor environmental conditions by community member including restore biodiversity through reducing, decreasing and abandon hazardous chemicals.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1. Results of project evaluation were as follows: 1) Total number of farmers trained from local expert learning centers was 275, 185 in the year 2007 to 2012.During 6 years of the project number of farmers attained training was over target number in every year, for example, a number of trained farmers in 2009 was 69,830 which target number was 65,000 and a number of trained farmers in 2013 was 17,608 while target number was 16,700. Increasing number of farmers who attained training in each year indicated the efficiency of training provided by local expert learning centers and the training met demands of farmers. 2) 6,750 voluntary farmers have been trained from 2008 to 2010. Almost voluntary farmers can be the best practices and resource persons through transferring knowledge and understandings to community and interested people and created networking in the community to work with various agencies. 3) Group and network: Forming group lead to share knowledge among group members and contribute to revive and develop local knowledge. Moreover, group members can sell their non-chemical products to community that made extra income to members and improvedtheir livelihoods. 2. Outcome of the project:Most of farmers in 2012 have good understandings on the sufficiency economy philosophy and have knowledge on home accounting in the highest level. Moreover, almost farmers (92.33) were able to apply knowledge on sufficiency economy to their daily life. Almost farmers (96.95 %) understood the philosophy and adjusted it to their farms. For satisfaction of training, farmers were satisfied with the environment of training at the highest level. 3. Impacts derived from project implementation are follows: Economic aspect: Alleviate poverty regarding to the New Theory farming practice contributed to less reliance on external inputs, decrease household expenses by replacing with internal inputs and reduce risks from unstable price of agricultural commodity. Moreover, a balance of trade deficit has been reduced from the decrease of import on agricultural chemicals. Health and food safety: Foods derived from agricultural nature technique with no use of chemicals were safe from chemical residues. Products from this technique are mainly used for household consumption and surplus is for making merit, breeding, processing and selling to local market with local safety standards. Food Security: Farming system focused on diversityof various activities on plant, animals, fishery, soil water and forest is able to respond on satisfaction of living, using, consuming and security. This system can react to food security of farmers, community and nation. Environmental aspect: Farming system following the New Theory relied on fertility of soil, water and forest including the respect to the ecosystem. The system emphasized on the importance of living organisms in soil and water. Therefore, farming practices in this system abandon plowing, burning and bare soil. Soil restoration and water conservation are carried out by plantingVetiver grass, increasing soil fertility by using green manure and applying botanical insecticides to control insect pests. These activities practiced in the system are considered as good indicators for the environment. Social aspect: The New Theory concept strengthens community that the first step emphasize on distribute the surplus of products to neighbors that create the unity and lead to building up group network to carry out further activity in the second and the third steps of the concept (Kasetsart University, 2012).

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The system of evaluation and follow-up are as follows: 1. Follow-up of training by local expert learning center 1) Local expert learning center made a follow-up plan to know the results of training. The plan was included reviewing results after applied knowledge in farms and providing advices to solve agricultural problems. Results have shown farmers gained morale to do farming and proposed their needs on plant varieties and small ponds including made comments to provincial offices in order to inform related agencies for further assistances. 2) Results of follow up and progress report have shown that training by local experts was enable farmers to change their concepts and attitude towards their occupations including the prompt to do farming activities following sufficiency economy advised by local experts. Economic aspect: Farmers who applied the New Theory concept can reduce reliance on external inputs, decrease household expenses, cut down risk of unstable prices of agricultural products and set up prices by farmers due to quantity and quality control. Moreover, our country can reduce trade deficit resulted from the decrease of agricultural chemical import. Health aspect: Food production derived from using chemical free technique are safe for consumers. Surplus products are divided for making a merit, storing for household consumption and collect as breeds before sell to market. Security aspect: Diversify farming activities for fish farm,animal husbandry, plant, water management and soil improvement bring food security to farmers, community and the country at last. Environmental aspect: The New Theory is a farming system that depends on the wealthy of soil, water and forest as well as respect to the ecology. The system emphasizes on preserving soil microorganisms by adding organic matter and using botanical pesticides for pest control. Social aspect: Farmers who applied the New Theory concept in their farms contribute the surplus of products to neighbors. Contribution led to forming a group to do social activities in the community. 2. Evaluation of the project was carried out by Kasetsart University. Results can be included as follow: 1) Applying sufficiency economy philosophy to farms contributes to decrease of costs and household expenses and some activities in farms create extra income that can lower the debts. 2) Farmers applied knowledge learned from local expert learning center to improve their livelihoods by making home accounting, creating map of life and working in a group in term of group and network for economic activities and social benefits. 3) Knowledge was applied to conserve environment by maximizing use of natural resources and local materials including swift to integrated farming which preserve agricultural biodiversity and safe to consumers and producers as well.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Obstacles arose from project implementation and solutions are concluded as: 1) Some local expert learning centers have no accommodations for visitors and the complexity of financial regulation cause a delay of allowance. The centers were incomplete with training facility have to quit the project. For complex financial regulations, provincial office acts as an assistance to manage financial sheets to the center. 2) Generally, farmers face difficulties to apply knowledge to practice in their farms. Their problems were natural disaster and lack of inputs such as money, machine, places and labor. Concerned agencies should continue to promote and develop this project through providing inputs to farmers who intend to apply the New Theory concept to their farms. Moreover, resource persons of the centers should be trained knowledge on agriculture and improve training facility and road to access the center. 3) Voluntary farmers faced a problem to transfer knowledge and experiences to community members. Community members believed the knowledge are unable to practice in farms. Some voluntary farmers viewed that results from applying sufficiency economy philosophy to farm management are difficult to see in the short time including encounter natural disaster and no market contribute to unsuccessful practices in farm level. Related agencies should continue support training and corporate with local experts to setting up curriculum for specific knowledge. Furthermore, the centers should coordinate with concerned agencies to set up working committee to follow up farmers after training and provide advises in practicing the New Theory at farms. 4) Group of farmers which was formed after training have no management knowledge on capital and data management including development of new market and analysis skill for drawing business plan. Responsible agencies should support establishment and development of group by providing advises, materials and machine for group activity including supplying knowledge through training. Moreover, government agencies should support and promote production process and market to sustain and strengthen farmer group in order to prevent possible effects from AEC (Asian Economic Cooperation) that will take into effect in 2015.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
1) Trained Farmers (1) Knowledge: Farmers have grained knowledge that match their needs through learning by doing such as field visits brought confidence in applying new knowledge to farms and benefit on their daily life, for example, reducing household expenses and debts. The most important thing was reliance of farmers by using internal inputs from farms and community including producing needy products and conserve soil and water. (2) Social issue: Learning by exchanging knowledge and experiences between group members during a training provided an opportunity for farmers to build relationships lead to forming a group activity for economic propose. (3) Health issue: The training course focused on upgrading quality of life and promoting a good health by changing from intensive farm to environmentally friendly farm and organic farm. Cost of medical care was lower due to family members consume healthy foods without using chemicals in farm. (4) Economic issue: Results from the study of Kasetsart University have shown that the Office of Permanent Secretary allocated budget in the year 2012 for 70 million baht in training 17, 321 target farmers and average income of farmers was increased for 9,763 Baht/person or 1:2.42 after training. 2) Local experts (1) Social issue: 1) Local experts are acknowledged and admired as wise men that own local wisdoms and are skilled persons. Local experts define curriculum and transfer knowledge that match the needs of farmers and sociology. 2) Many local experts have been admired as national local experts in agricultural sector and received awards from the king for their outstanding farming practices. Furthermore, some local experts were assigned as the board of the Promotion of National Agricultural Local Expert that respond to select the national local expert in agriculture including participated in working committee in provincial levelunder policy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. (2) Health issue: Local expert applied the sufficiency economy philosophy into his/her daily life and farming practices. The local expert learning center emphasizes on green agriculture by using concept of reduce, abandon and terminate application of chemical pesticides in production processes. Therefore, products from the learning center are toxic free and mainly use for household consumption, while the surplus will be sold to market. Toxic free products are good for health of farmers and consumers. (3) Environmental issue: Local experts focused on integrated farming without using chemicals resulted in no chemical residue in soil and water. Environmentally friendly farming practices direct positive effects on local expert both health and reduction of global warming. (4) Economic issue: Knowledge and local wisdom which match the needs of farmers and have stages of transferring process lead to recognition of local expert and the learning center to farmers and the public. Various agencies work with local expert through sending their participants for training and field visits. Working as a network with a variety of agencies and selling products which are produced base on local wisdom create more income to local expert. 3) Government sector: The project has changed an old style training technique that was arranged by government officials to new technique known as “local teach local”. Local expert organized training in collaboration with concerned agencies and nonprofit organizations. Benefits of integrating between local expert and concerned agencies contribute to reducing government budget and save time because the agencies use the learning center to train farmers on their own purposes. Moreover, farmer has more time to work in farm due to organization of training from various agencies took at one place. Integrating works of concerned agencies at local learning center lead to building up a network which will be useful for implementing government projects in the future.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The ministry realized the need to speed up implementation of agricultural development under sufficiency economy concept in order to comply with the 11th National Economic and Development Plan which have conceptual ideas on 1) developing and managing agriculture following the sufficiency economy philosophy and promoting the philosophy to be applied in every sector 2) building up people participatory process in all sectors with emphasizing on people participatory in decision making 3) developing agriculture towards balancing all dimensions. The project has been carried out since 2007 up to the present that indicated sustainability of the project. At the present the Office of Permanent Secretary is in a process of setting up the strategy on agricultural development following sufficiency economy concept in order to use as a framework to drive the agricultural development into the same direction and be appropriate. Local scholars were invited to take part as committee members of the working committee on agricultural management under the sufficiency economy philosophy. Expansion of public services to other sectors The first year of project implementation forty local expert learning centers intwenty seven provinces took part in the project which targetedfarmers in some provinces were unable to participate in the service. Therefore, the service was expanded across the country except Bangkok in the next year and there was 160 learning centers joined the project. Moreover, the learning centers are well known visits for farmers and interested persons who are keen to learn how to apply sufficiency economy to their life. Various public and private sectors also utilized the centers to train their targets. Examples of activities which were disseminated and applied by other agencies and importance of activities which were introduced in other countries 1) Procausr, Asia Indigenous peoples Pact (AIPP) and Inter Mountain People Education and Culture in Thailand (IMPACT) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives supported three indigenous groups, namely; 1) Akha group in Mae Sarua district, Chiang Rai 2) Karen group in Ban Pong subdistrict, Chiang Rai and 3) Lahu group in Mae Eai district, Chiang Mai. Representatives from three hill tribe groups were attended a training course provided by Procasur. The Office of Permanent Secretary supported representatives of indigenous groups to attend a training course at local expert learning center in Chiang Mai in 2012. The aim of training was to apply and transfer knowledge on agricultural development based on the New Theory concept to their community members through using demonstration plots. 2) Procasur Asia and Pacific, a non-profit organization is working for poverty alleviation in developing countries, corporate with the Office of Permanent Secretary to arrange a training course and field visits at 4 local learning centers in 4 provinces. Thirty participants came from Latin America, South Asia and Asian countries to attend training course provide by four local experts in year 2013. Cambodia participants attended three training courses from local experts have plannedto establish local expert learning centers in their home country.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
1) Support from the government Top ranking position in the ministry and government officials from various levels provided ideas and determined project implementation that focused on people such as local experts who play a key role to carry out the project instead of officials.The ministry continually supportsthe policy on agricultural development inaccordance with sufficiency economy and set priority to defend for financial support. 2) Local experts and their resource persons have capacities to transfer knowledge and experiences, creating inspiration and faith to farmers who took part in the project. Taking part in decision making and actions of the project built up ownership and pride on local experts and encourage them to fully corporate with the government. 3) Farmers who gained knowledge from local expert and his/her resource persons have strong wills and demandsto apply the sufficiency economy philosophy to their livelihoods and careers. 4) Using information system for project management by updating database in order to control, monitor and disseminate information to farmers, people and interested persons including act as a channel for exchanging information and link data with other networks. 5) Follow up people participation by local experts to tracing farmers after training in order to give advises at farmers’ farms that contribute to the increase of confidence and eagerness in doing farms. 6) Local expert get recognitions from community and various networks which is a major factor to gain cooperation and support in carrying activity in a long term. 8) Future plan for increasing ability and opportunity of poor farmers (1) To strengthenmicro economic such as promote economic activity group which is in accordance with local wisdom, capacity and culture and encourage farming practice focused on sustainable agriculture. (2)To appropriately adjust local wisdom with new technology such as applying local knowledge to link with production, participatory research and develop local knowledge to creating appropriate innovation and technology which can transfer to community. (3) To set up new projects such as projects under government policy and project for underprivileged people who were affected from economic crisis.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   The Office of Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Opart Thongyong
Title:   Asistant Permanent Secretary  
Telephone/ Fax:   +(66)6622816599/+(66)6626298971
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   3 Ratchadamneon-Nok Ave.
Postal Code:   10200
City:   Pranakhon District
State/Province:   Bangkok

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