Based on reactions to my previous post it seems that some New Mandala readers are alarmed that rural people in Thailand actually have opinions, especially when those opinions relate to the revered “sufficiency economy.” Accessing those opinions is not all that difficult – just go out and talk to people about government policy, agriculture or the directions of rural development. There is so much “sufficiency” rhetoric floating around at the moment that the topic inevitably emerges. Here are some more local thoughts:

We may not get much budget this year, because the government emphasises “kaset pho piang” (sufficiency agriculture). [AW: What does that mean?] Chaw na pen chaw na. Chaw suan pen chaw suan. Chaw rai pen chai rai. (Paddy farmers are paddy farmers. Gardeners are gardeners. Upland farmers are upland farmers.) It seems that they don’t want us to study. They don’t want us to work outside agriculture. The government is putting a lot of emphasis on organic agriculture. The public servants are scared about the impact of chemicals on their health, so they are encouraging farmers to be chemical free.

Settakhit pho piang, ngen mai piang pho. (Sufficiency economy, insufficient money.)

Kaset pho piang sounds OK, but there really is no benefit from agriculture. The cost of growing crops keeps going up but the prices stay the same. There are too many farmers planting the same crop and this makes the price low.

Settakhit pho phiang yang mai pho. (Sufficiency economy still not sufficient.)

Nay nam mi plaa, nay naa mi khaw, nay rong raem mi phuying. (There are fish in the water, rice in the fields and women in the hotel.)

The new government talks about setakhit pho piang. Perhaps for the older generation this is possible. They can grow crops in the fields and get fish from the stream. But they want their children to go and study. They have to pay for fees, travel, mobile phones and computers. So we get into debt to do this and end up having to sell land to people that want to come and live in the village.

Why would my son want to come back and work in agriculture? He has a degree now. He wants to work in the city. He has one day off per week. If he comes to visit us every week he wastes a lot of time travelling. When he is here he helps with agriculture, but that is not his interest.