Sufficiency shouldn’t get in the way of some good propaganda

11 11 2013

Somehow we missed this story when it first appeared in the middle of October. So, apparently, did The Nation, for it has only managed to get to it by 10 November. The Nation needs to be aware that it can’t be rampantly royalist if it doesn’t have timely propaganda.

Why propaganda? Quite simply because the story doesn’t interrogate its central claim.

The Nation reports that “Jarun Jaroensab, the first Thai farmer to receive the Asia-Pacific Model Farmer Award from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), took to farming after learning about His Majesty’s ‘sufficiency theory’.”

Saddled with debt, Jarun “did some research and found a book on His Majesty’s [they mean the king] sufficiency theory.” According to the report, “sufficiency theory [sic.] advocates a diversified approach to farming, rather than sticking to one crop, and encourages what are essentially organic methods for sustainability and freedom from loans.” Jarun was intrigued and reportedly “turned to Kasetsart University and Department of Agriculture for advice on implementation of the practices. He later shared his knowledge with other farmers in his village of Rang Si Mok.”

Hey presto, “before long, his yields were high and his farm was self-sufficient.”

At the Chaipattana Foundation, this is the explanation of sufficiency economy, maintaining the emphasis in the original:

In this royal statement, His Majesty [was] concerned that modern development which emphasized only the economic expansion might eventually lead the country to crisis. Therefore, he stressed the importance of building a ‘good and stable foundation’ before further progress could be developed. This means that instead of putting the emphasis on the expansion of the industrial sector prior to development, the stability of the basic economy should be established first, that is, assuring that the majority of rural people have enough to subsist first. This is a method of development that stresses the distribution of income to build the overall economic foundation and stability of the country before going on to a higher level of development.

Here’s a bit more:

His Majesty believed that if the farmers acted with due consideration based on knowledge of past price fluctuations of agricultural commodities they would see how risky it is to concentrate all one’s resources in such commodities expecting large profits. And if they adopted the principle of self-immunity, they would prepare for price changes in the market by producing enough to eat as a priority and only then think of selling any surplus.

And so on. Does this fit the story The Nation tells, with its headline that makes it seem like the award is for the king?Royal nonsense

Well, after following the king’s “theory,” “he and his neighbours were still at the mercy of the market…. They grew rice and other crops in the belief that demand was strong, but all too often, oversupply brought the prices down.” Maybe they didn’t study the contradictory and all-purpose advice well enough? Who knows, but the solution was found elsewhere:

So Jarun realised he had to make wiser choices about what to grow as well as come up with a marketing plan to sell effectively. While hunting for ideas, he decided to seek a job at one of Thailand’s largest agro-industrial companies. However, since he did not have a degree, he only landed the post of a janitor. But Jarun decided to make the most of it. He watched, listened and learned. After three months he developed a business plan, quit his janitor job, and began growing organic asparagus and baby corn to sell at a market just north of Bangkok.

The outcome of his three months “internship” at a large and modern conglomerate was:

It wasn’t long before exporters discovered Jarun’s high-quality organic vegetables, and with his knowledge about marketing, packaging, food safety and international standards he was ready for the big move. Now the problem was that his farm, which had expanded to 30 rai, was not big enough to meet the demand.

It seems to us that Jarun has done something that he deserves credit for.

We know, SE can be all things to all men and women, but this is anything but a story of the triumph of some grand theory.



2 responses

4 08 2015
Royal accolades still concocted | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has been involved in such ludicrous awards and “recognition.” So has the FAO, some foreign governments, especially those with royal families, a range of universities from the […]

4 08 2015
Royal accolades still concocted | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] has been involved in such ludicrous awards and “recognition.” So has the FAO, some foreign governments, especially those with royal families, a range of universities from the […]

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