Villagers share local wisdom on fighting climate change

pix 5Farmers and villagers from around the country shared local wisdom and experiences in mitigating climate change and preventing natural disasters in their areas at a national forum in Bangkok last week. The United Nations has said that Thailand is one of the countries most affected by climate change so far.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment organized the forum entitled “Climate Change Expo 2015” along with 20 government and civil society partners at Knowledge Park at Central World in the heart of downtown Bangkok.  Among the partners were the European Union (EU), the Embassy of France, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and government of Germany. It was held just weeks before the crucial international Conference on Climate (COP) in December in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The forum included panel discussions mixing international and Thai experts, presentations from organizations such as Greenpeace, films, awards for youth involved in climate change mitigation, and multimedia and art exhibits. The three-day forum also featured an address by Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Surasak Kanjanakul.

While experts on the environment detailed the latest findings and research on climate change, dozens of farmers, villagers and indigenous people also shared their knowledge and local wisdom with the experts and each other.

Chutima Noinard of the Klong Jinda Farmer Group in Nakhon Pathom province said, local people need to prepare for unstable climate patterns. She recounted how more extreme flooding in her area in recent years had destroyed some varieties of local fruits and vegetables to the point that they had almost completely disappeared.

“Our community is a fruit farmer community in Tha Chin River flood plain, so we face floods regularly. Because of climate change, severe floods will occur more frequently in the future and it is more likely that our native species of fruit plants will die out because of floods,” she told the forum.

Her group’s solution was to start a seed bank. They harvest and save seeds, and then distribute them to other farmers in nearby areas when flooding or other events damage or destroy crops.

“Growing native varieties of fruit also has many benefits such as more tolerance to pests and weather. Despite the fact that native varieties produce smaller and less beautiful fruit than commercially-grown varieties, they still taste good,” she said.

Somkid Tummoon, from Mae Win Organic Farming Enterprise in Mae Wang in northern Chiang Mai province said that climate change was already affecting his local community of ethnic Karen people. Deforestation and climate change have been causing more landslides in the area, destroying both forests and farms.

His community started a campaign to re-grow the forest to hold the soil in place. Locals could make a living from the forest and protect the forest at the same time with the right approaches.

“We encourage locals to grow four types of cash crops that can grow alongside big trees in the forest. These four plants are avocado, plum, coffee and lucy grass. And coffee is the most profitable crop,” he said.

“The outgrowth of coffee planting in the forest is also amazing, as we can preserve the forest in our area. This is just the first step to proving that ordinary people can make a difference to our environment and the world,” he said.




Thailand Focus week of November 9, 2015

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