The government wants Thailand to become the bio hub of ASEAN by 2027, and Isaan will play a role with its own bio hub in Ban Phai district. But this state-sponsored development is too often pushed through without meaningful participation of local people, writes guest contributor Maenwat Kunchon na Ayutthaya.
The government’s sugarcane strategy calls for the construction of 29 new sugar mills in Isaan, each with its own biomass power plant. Locals are concerned the mills and power plants will jeopardize efforts to promote organic agriculture, take communal resources, pollute water sources, and impact long-term health and well-being of communities.
Living the life of a farmer in rural Isaan, Martin Wheeler became the poster child for organic agriculture and the sufficiency economy model. But much of the attention, Wheeler says, was misdirected. His farm which once grew rice and vegetables is now filled with sugarcane and grown with chemical fertilizer.