In the 1960s, the government of Thailand focused on export-oriented cash crop monoculture gain. This agriculture scope ramped up productivity with the use of machines, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. This form of farming lasted for two decades until the soil condition was depleted through runoff and erosion. Furthermore, farmers’ debt accrued because of declining productivity and purchased chemicals. To combat this, the implementation of sustainable agriculture in Thailand was needed.
Thailand’s high dependency on agriculture led to a change in previous farming techniques. These new practices enhanced sustainable agriculture in Thailand. Five main farming systems were promoted to better the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and improve environmental conditions.
These sustainable approaches include integrated farming, organic farming, natural farming, agroforestry and New Theory farming. Each one helps promote sustainable agriculture in Thailand, an essential goal for a nation reliant on agriculture.
Integrated Farming System
This system is used when two or more different agriculture activities are in the same field. This lowers costs for farmers and utilizes limited spaces to their maximum potential.
Organic farming limits the quantities of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers used in farming. By using less harmful chemicals, the soil and land are protected. This branch of sustainable agriculture is researched by the government, various universities and NGOs. In Thailand, NGO research is conducted mainly by the Alternative Agriculture Network (AAN) and later by its sister organization, the Sustainable Agriculture Foundation Thailand (SAFT).
Natural farming is considered the ideal sustainable farming model for many areas in Thailand. It includes farming with no tillage, no application of chemicals and complete preservation of the ecosystem with little damage from farming.
This approach enables cash crops and cattle to coexist with trees and forestry land. As such, it amplifies the ability to utilize the land for sustainable agriculture while also promoting reforestation.
New Theory Farming
Proposed in 1993 by His Majesty the King Bhumiphol Adulyadej, New Theory Farming is ideal for farmers with limited field allotments and a shortage of water resources. The concept highlights self-sufficiency by dividing the available land into four parts and utilizing each for various needs. These include fish ponds/raising, fields for crops and vegetables, a rice paddy for self-consumption and space for living and livestock raising.
These proposals, set out to improve farming techniques and promote sustainable agriculture in Thailand, are critical in developing a healthy environment and economy for future generations.
– Bronti DeRoche