The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP), has provided funds amounting to 3,490,000 baht for the Project to Promote Integrated Farming and Product Processing for Income Generation in Phu Kradueng District, Loei Province. On completion of the project, the closing and handover ceremony was held on March 28, 2013, at the Bamboo furniture producing building, in Wangyang Village, Si Than Sub-District, Phu Kradueng District. Mr. Mitsugu Saito, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan, Mr. Sompong Arunrojpanya, Governor of Loei Province and Mr. Perm Tangkwarum, Representative of the Natural Farming Network in Phu Kradueng participated, along with about 250 invited guests.
16 villages in Si Than, Pha Nok Khao, and Phu Kradueng Sub-districts, which are the target sites of this project, border on national parks and a wildlife sanctuary. In recent years, people in the area have decreased their dependence on forest resources and are converting to production activities on farm land. Many farmers are now mainly engaged in mono-cropping of short-term crops, such as sugar cane, cassava, and maize. However, capacity-building for integrated agriculture and natural farming is required in order to reduce the risks caused by mono-cropping and the use of agricultural chemical which can lead to environmental degradation and health problems. Besides, mono-cropping requires a certain amount of investment and can easily be affected by market prices. Consequently, it is also necessary to develop agricultural product processing skills to enhance income generation and bring about economic stability for local people.
The Natural Farming Network in Phu Kradueng is a community-based organization which aims to improve agricultural systems for farmers’ independence through natural farming, and to encourage farmers to cooperate in a community enterprise in order to increase their production capacity and reduce debts. Currently, 250 households are members of the Network, consisting of an integrated farming group, a sugar cane cropping group, a bamboo planting and processing group, a cattle raising and organic fertilizer production group, and an alternative energy promotion group.
In this project, training and study tours were provided and plant extension plots, nurseries, and an organic fertilizer shed were set up in order to improve people’s skills in integrated agriculture and natural farming. The project included promoting the use of charcoal as an alternative energy source together with a by-product of charcoal, wood vinegar. In addition, it promoted the activities of occupational groups in producing bamboo furniture and processing sugar cane, through training to develop agricultural product processing skills as well as be providing the necessary sheds and equipment.
Through this project, the members of the above network gained knowledge of mixed-farming and natural farming which they can put into practice and pass on to other members. Moreover, they are now able to manufacture bamboo furniture and process sugar cane which will lead to higher quality products and greater productivity.
The Government of Japan intends to continue supporting projects which contribute to environmentally-friendly activities and income generation in communities through its Grant Assistance for Human Security Projects scheme (GGP).