Rising self-reliance through promoting Agro-ecological Farming
“Don’t keep moaning that there is no one to help you. You become help to others and yourself.If there is no shade, plant a tree; if there is no road, built one and if there is no happiness, smile and make some. “
A husband and wife from Thailand did the same to heal the environment and free farmers from debt.
Payong Srithong and Raweewan Srithong are the Ashoka fellows. Ashoka has been electing over 2,500 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in 70 countries.
Payong and his wife, Raweewan, graduated from Thammasat University. They chose themselves to dedicate improving the well-being of ethnic Karen and needy Thai villagers in a community in Dan Chang district, Suphan Buri province.
”It was my intention to come back and work in my hometown, to use my knowledge to improve society,” said Payong to Bangkok Post.
For more than 15 years, couple has been living in Ban Huay Hin Dam; a village in Dan Chang promoting agro-ecological farming which they believe can surely conserve the environment and provide opportunity for low-income farmers.
Agro-ecological farming discourages the use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Instead, they grow a variety of crops to ensure food security as well as to maintain the ecological balance in their farms.
”This is what our grandparents and great-grandparents did in the old days,” said Raweewan to Bangkok post.
Farmers need large scale agricultural estate to lower production costs. With low productivity and low returns, the resulting debts can become large. To clear the debts, farmers have to take out more loans so they can risk with another crop. This cycle of debt can continue for years until they eventually lose their land.
Also, the use of pesticides and insecticides harm the fertile soil. It also hardens the soil, killing living organisms and destroys its nutrients; however, the chemicals also enter the food chain and ultimately harm people’s health.
Ultimately, Payong and Raweewan were powerful enough to break this sadistic cycle.
They grew fruit trees as a way to retain soil moisture and nutrients. They also grew a variety of permanent and seasonal crops so they have enough food all year round without having to buy from outside. The farmers also grew agrochemical-free vegetables to earn an income.
Also, In Dan Chang, Payong and Raweewan developed a community-supported system where organic farmers sell their turn out directly to consumers at pre-determined prices. This provided mutual support between growers and consumers as Buyers enjoy fresh vegetables without having to worry about chemical residues. Buyers were also satisfied with the fact that their support helps both the environment and needy farmers.
“Simple living, high thinking”-yes! This has been a key for the couple.
This job was not so easy. They had loads of hurdles in their way. But, what is the real fun without troubles? Isn’t it? They had to sacrifice the hi-fi city life. Also, they had to leave their studies due to very less time.
As many of city people want to get back to nature, Raweewan wants to establish a kind of sanctuary where city people can learn organic farming techniques. Learn the natural treatments, as well as how to live pleasantly with nature.
These two dreamers have also been a great source of inspiration. They might have seen a lunatic dream, but they did it! They made their dream come true! So, Are you gonna make your dream come true or give up to the dull monotony of life?
Environmentalist, cricket-player, forest-dweller Rohan believes world is the best creation of God and every habitat of world deserves respect. Writing on YL magazine will give him a better chance to communicate with the world that is unseen to him, he thinks.