The costs and probable unsustainability of the unrestrained Green Revolution for the 64 percent of Thais dependent on the land for survival have become increasingly apparent. Day-Cha Siripatra is organizing a national movement that is gradually adapting, demonstrating and spreading alternative forms of agriculture that are safer and that will keep the land productive over the long haul.
The New Idea
If one wishes to solve the problems of Thai society, one must solve the problems of Thai farmers. This forms the spiritual and ideological foundation of Siripatra's work. Through TREE (Technology for Rural and Ecological Enrichment), the organization he founded with several colleagues in 1989. He works with farmers and the 31 alternative agriculture NGOs in Thailand to help bring together farmers and new and old farming methods which will work for them.Siripatra is not only academically qualified (with a degree in agriculture), but he is a farmer himself. He has the hands-on experience that allows him to adapt old ways of farming, find new alternatives and organize and spread this knowledge. He is particularly concerned with the plight of the small farmer, whom he feels has suffered the most due to government policy. Siripatra's ideas are rooted in practicality -- evolved through years of farming his own land and observing methods used by others. He combines a respect for traditional farming methods with an appreciation for the potential of modern methods, in particular new bio-technologies.Siripatra believes that the proper role for citizens' organizations is to make alternatives available to the farmers- not to make the decisions. The main resource is the farmer himself, and the knowledge and ingenuity that enabled him to farm the land in harmony with nature for generations. "People must find their own solutions; we just help by supplying information, perhaps getting people together, acting as a catalyst," he says.