Chiang Mai, Thailand
After completing her 12-month training program at Hidden Villa Farm in Los Altos Hills, CA, Duangjai (“Jai”) Rungrojcharoenkit returned to her home in the Chang Mai region of Thailand where most farmers use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Jai and fellow 2006 MESA Stewards Napa Triratsakulchai and Waraporn Wiengwara created the Farmer Field School on Sustainable Agriculture in December 2007 to teach local rice growers to farm productively using sustainable methods, thereby improving the health of Thai people and the environment.
The Farmer Field School on Sustainable Agriculture bases its 12-week curriculum on the life cycle of the rice crop in Tambon Bo Ngen, Ladlum Kaew District (in central Thailand). Farmers come together at a demonstration rice paddy for a half-day lesson once a week. Topics include seed saving, soil fertility, water management, and weed management. Participants also learn to produce compost and herbal pesticide as a means to enrich their soil and cut costs.
Seeing the influence of agrochemical producers on farm policy in Thailand, Jai knew that her project would need to garner the interest of Thai people and government in order to succeed. Beyond the initial financial support it received from MESA, the Farmer Field School on Sustainable Agriculture receives administrative support from the local government of Bo Ngen Tambon and academic input from the Healthy Public Policy Foundation, a research organization in Thailand. MESA Alumni Narumon Oris, Toonsak Wanyaphet, and Duanphen Inhnokhoi also collaborate in the coordination of the Farmer Field School.
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