Villages in four provinces turning to Sufficiency Economy

A total of 31 villages in four provinces have signed on to a program to apply the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej as a means to improving livelihoods, the environment and developing sustainable solutions to the challenges they face. The villages are in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen and the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy was developed by the late King Bhumibol through working directly with villagers over many decades to help lift them out of poverty and solve their problems. It is based on Buddhist principles of moderation, reasonableness and prudent decision-making. It calls for diversifying crops and sources of income and living in harmony with the environment.

The philosophy was originally developed as a means to help farmers and those engaged in agriculture become more resilient, but its tenets have proved to be applicable to a wider range of endeavors from running businesses to managing national economies. Representatives from 105 countries have attended workshops and seminars held in Thailand on the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and many are employing its principles in development projects in their own nations.

Last week, the Pid Thong Lang Phra royal program signed a memorandum of understanding with four government agencies – the Prime Minister’s Office, Interior Ministry, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, and the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry – to expand its work implementing the philosophy to 31 villages in the four provinces. The Prime Minister’s Office pledged funds of roughly $45 million to support the work.

The southernmost provinces have been among the poorest in the country for decades, and while the economy in the northeast has been steadily improving, it lags far behind that of Bangkok and the Eastern Seaboard. A trouble in the Deep South has also hindered economic development and anti-poverty efforts.

Pid Thong Lang Phra was founded in 2008. Its name means doing good without expecting anything in return. A royally sponsored initiative, it specializes in rural development using the sufficiency economy philosophy to tackle the problems of deforestation, flooding and poverty.

Khon Kaen University agreed to join the project last year. It will establish a Sufficiency Economy Philosophy learning center and provide training courses. The university plans to collaborate with 19 educational institutes to implement the project in the Northeast.

The program has already been implemented in Nan, Udon Thani, Petchaburi, Uthai Thani and Kalasin provinces, and claims to have raised incomes for over 2,000 families in those provinces.