BANGKOK - The royal initiative Discovery Foundation is developing the so-called "Nan Model", which seeks to build farmers' self-reliance and boost their income in the hope it will inspire the government to embrace the initiative.
"We expect to raise local farmers' income by Bt1 billion [in total] this year," the foundation's secretary general Disnadda Diskul said yesterday.
He said the Nan Model now covers just three districts of Nan but if it were expanded to cover the whole province, the farmers' total income could jump by Bt2 billion next year.
The key of the project, he said, is to provide an adequate water supply and market for farmers who grow other crops outside the paddy season.
Disnadda believes the Nan Model would strengthen farmers' self-reliance and prove more effective in helping them than the government's pledging scheme or price-guarantee scheme.
Under the project, the foundation is working with locals |to repair check dams and reservoirs in Nan to ensure that |farmers in targeted areas have adequate water supply for farmland totally 100,000 rai (395,000 acres).
"We have 420 repair projects under the Nan Model. But we do not require a huge budget because locals have volunteered labour," Disnadda said.
He believes all the repairs should be completed by May at the latest.
"We are also discussing with entrepreneurs in agricultural or agricultural crop-processing sectors about the possibility of setting up a Bt60million fund. This fund would extend help farmers in regard to seeds and relevant knowledge," he said.
Disnadda said he had engaged the private sector in the project's farm planning and crop-purchase elements to ensure a win-win situation.
"Farmers will then know which crops will sell while the private sector will get the supply it wants," he said.
Disnadda said the model could also solve the forest-encroachment problem.
"Watershed forest in Nan is important. Nan River, after all, sends about 12 billion cubic metres of water to the Chao Phraya River each year," he said.
Nan Chamber of Commerce chief advisor Tanakorn Ratchata-nont said the project already got a good response from the business sector.