| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
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.
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.