Mindful Markets Asia Forum 2017

9 September 2017, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

It was held at Chaloem Rajakumari 60 Building, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. The Keynote speaker, Prof. Wen Tiejun, was introduced to the forum by Asst.Prof. Surat Horachaikul, Indian Studies Centre, Chulalongkorn University. Welcome note to all the members was addressed by Assistant Prof. Pomthong Malakul, Vice President of Chulalongkorn University, where he welcomed all the participants who have come to Thailand to participate in the course.

Keynote Speech: Our Challenges of the 21th Century: Rural Reconstruction in China and Asia by Prof. Wen Tiejun, Renmin University

Prof. Wen mentioned that Asia is an indigenous continent, filled with indigenous people until now. Agriculture was gifted to the world from here only. He also added that rural reconstruction is indeed the cultural reconstruction. He elaborated about the three forms of agriculture as below;

  • Anglo-Saxon model of capitalized big farm was caused not by free market but by colonization (USA, Canada, Australia), now turned into financialized agriculture controlling world market by big transnational forms.
  • Rhine model of medium and small farm in former colonial master countries
  • Asiatic model of peasants’ ecologic agriculture of Asian countries with a substantial indigenous population that has not been colonized, now based on the village regeneration, setting up government. organized peasants’ multi-function co-op for capital primitive accumulation and agricultural security for rural sustainability.

He mentioned that globalization led to competition among nations. He also added the measures, which China had taken to revitalize itself from the western capitalist era. Those are viz.,

  • By deepening the supply-chain reform
  • Eco-civilization strategy in the 21st century
  • Rural development in eco-civilization strategy

China is the only industrialized developing country through internal primary accumulation with mass indigenous organizations in name of rural collective economy.

Panel Discussion: Rural Reconstruction Movementin Asia
Speakers: Ms. Từ Tuyết Nhung (PGS Vietnam), Krishna Prasad (Sahaja Samrudha, India), Dej Poomkacha (Foundation for Thailand Rural Reconstruction Movement under the Patronage, Thailand), Saika Aoki (Pitara farm, Japan)

Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) in Vietnam, Ms. Từ Tuyết Nhung: Nhung elaborated about the context, progress,organization, implementation and constrains with PGS in Vietnam. While consumers were losing trust on safe food and since there is no Certification Body for organic foods, trigger her to launch the PGS system, which is a linking a factor between the consumers and the producers, rather this is not the case with third party certification. The organization of PGS is linked with farmers at different with different roles and responsibilities. The groups are in a hierarchical basis as follows, 1) Farmer families/ group 2) Producer  group 3) Inter-group 4) Coordination group.

PGS significantly raised awareness and capacity of farmers and stakeholders on food safety issue;

  • Created grass root networks where farmers show up their responsibilities for community and securing food safety.
  • Sharing responsibilities and benefits between trader and farmer of monitoring and quality guarantee a long product chain.
  • An effective guarantee with low cost for small farmer as well as for people meet to share and learn.
  • Not only increase income per month (50-100%) but also improve relationship among communities.

More provinces are interested in PGS and expect to adopt PGS (Hoi An city, Ben Tre province, Ho Chi Minh city).

Lessons Learned from Sahaja Samruda, Krishna Prasad: Krishna explained much about the diversity of indigenous seeds ranging from rice, millets, vegetables to cotton and about the qualitative work that Sahaja Samrudha has done in collecting all these varieties and distributing back to the farmers. He added that researches in India are coming to the skilled organic farmers filed. Since India is turned into the diabetes capital of the world because of the polished rice consumption which the governments even promote has made food rich only in carbohydrates, which in turn lead to diabetes. He added, millets, especially minor millets, the forgotten treasure,is a healer of diabetes. He also elaborated about the importance of Community Seed banks and about the India’s first farmer producer company for indigenous seeds. The “Sahaja Seeds” is really getting attraction among farmers across the sub-continent.

Rural Reconstruction in Thailand, Dej Poomkacha: Dej described about the role played by Thai government and by the NGOS in rural reconstruction, during 1961-2017. He added that the government has formed the following ministries and departments, which paved the way for rural reconstruction in Thailand, they are viz.,

     a) Ministry of Interior 
     b) Department of community development
     c) Department of land development
     d) Ministry of Education
     e) Ministry of Public health
     f) Ministry of Agriculture
     g) Ministry of Social Development and human security
     h) Ministry of justice
     i) Bank for agriculture

NGOs in Thailand known as Private voluntary organization, the activities ranged from;

  • Providing charitable assistance and processing quality of life development through bottom up process
  • Leadership development
  • Introducing, demonstrating and training the people to work and manage through various developmental group activities
  • Educating and Campaigning the public.

Community revitalization and young organic farmers in Japan, Saika Aoki: Pitara Farm is located on Hokuto in far northwest of Yamanashi, 150 kilometers away from Tokyo. Pitara Farm is at 700 meters above sea level foothill of Mt. Kaikoma. The farm was founded in 2010. Learning from Nature,growing organic food along with the rhythm of nature is the mission of Pitara Farm.They grow about 100 types of vegetables, grains, beans, herbs and rice. The things needed for them are all handmade, using the local resources around them. Apart from food, the basic life needs such as housing, the people in the farm also handle clothing and health by using the local resources. Pitara Farm welcomes people who can participate in the activities of the farm mostly on part time basis. Pitara Farm generates income from selling the agricultural products through organic outlets as well via home delivery. Apart from this,there is home stays in the farm, where one can participate in agriculture and have a farm stay.

In terms of economic model, Pitara Farm members all contribute to farming and cooking (which includes deeper levels of cooking such as preparation of ferments like miso) and share in meals and the space.  They however also have secondary work of their choosing and earn more income (money) from this (such as making handicrafts, teaching, etc)

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