“I’m not good at studying, so I trained myself to do agriculture to help my grandparents and to do it as my future occupation,” said Thanawat or Keen, a 14 year-old boy while feeding his chickens in the coop.
Although Keen’s family owns a tamarind orchard and a paddy field which could provide for them, the uncontrollable rainfall makes their income unsteady. In the years that tamarind yields were good, their prices would go down. It is worse in the years of extreme drought, when the tamarind trees did not bear fruits, meaning their investment was lost and the family could not earn enough to cover expenses. As a result, his parents had to make the difficult decision of moving to other provinces to work as hired labourers, inevitably leaving Keen under the care of his grandparents. The 3 of them struggled to survive by depending on the monthly allowance of 1,000 Bath sent by his parents.
World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT)’s Lomkao project in Phetchabun province works to promote people’s well-being. The first door that this family opened led them to self-sufficiency, which involves ‘cost-cutting’. WVFT gave Keen educational support, just as his family was supported to practise alterative occupation. From the 10 laying chickens received, which Keen and his grandparents carefully raised, they became full-grown and laid 8-10 eggs daily. These eggs became a free food source for the family. The surplus eggs can also be sold to generate some extra income. “Grandpa tried breeding the laying chickens with the local chickens. Now we have 13 more chicks. He has bred 2 batches so far. More chickens mean more eggs too,” said Keen’s grandmother, Grandma Huay, with a content expression.
‘Boosting Income’ is the second door that Keen and his grandparents have opened. Since the income generated by the tamarind orchard is not steady, Keen’s grandfather or Grandpa Nookid started applying the knowledge acquired from sufficiency agriculture occupation training to everyday life. He began ‘growing everything that he eats and eating all that he grows’ including galangal, lemongrass, and banana. He also dug a pond at an empty space in the tamarind orchard to raise plant-eating fish. At first, he meant to grow them for household consumption. However, there are still surpluses which the neighbouring villagers have asked to buy from him. This led to enough weekly and monthly income to cover household expenses. Additionally, Grandpa Nookid is growing more acacia and paak waan (Mlientha Suavis) vegetables. “I’ll grow more, little by little, to eat the shoots. If there are some left over, I’ll sell them so that we have some savings to send Keen to study in higher level”, he said.
“After school or on weekends, I’ll help grandpa and grandma work in the orchard,” Keen spoke about his daily routine. His involvement benefits his grandparents as they can save energy, while he also learns about farming through practice. Keen repeated the words that reveal his precocity, asserting, “Life is not certain. We have to stand firm on our feet. I’m very thankful to WVFT for giving me this great opportunity.”