Thailand – The secrets of Mr. Phajorae’s adaptation strategy

I met Mr. Phajorae during our meeting with the community of Chaem Noi to discuss the Where the Rain Falls project, trying to learn more about what problems the community is facing, what are the changes they perceive in climate and their impacts, and especially what solutions they are already implementing that actually work. Mr. Phajorae explained, along with other participants, that in the past years landslides have increased, the impacts of flash floods are growing, and the dry season is becoming longer. These increasingly frequent events have huge impacts on the food security of the villagers. Indeed, yields of rice – the main crop – are not constant at all. This year, the yield has even been reduced by half for most of the villagers. The farmers have also noted that the quality of soil is not as good as it used to be, soil is becoming harder. Tilling with buffalos is now more complicated and people generally have to use machines.

What Mr. Phajorae also explained is that he is adapting to these changes. To learn more on the secret of his success, we visited his plots. His plots are located at 1,100m above sea level and when we arrived there, we discovered at a first sight that the first secret of his success was to be able to create and sustain an integrated farm.

Originally he was only growing rice, but now he also grows pumpkins and tree crops. He has in particular banana trees and other local trees such as fishtail palms, the sapwood of which is used for cooking. He is also raising buffalos and fish that help him increase his income and food security.

Solidarity and exchange was a great part of his success to be able to make the necessary investments to manage better water.

Indeed, Mr. Phajorae made important investments to build three ponds on its plot. Two plots contain fish that he can sell and use for home consumption anies also supply water for his rice field, and one pond supplies water for the pumpkins and tree nursery.It was quite a big investment, and he was able to do it thanks to the buffalo he sold, his son in law that gave him money, and people that came to help him to dig the pond in exchange for his labor in their fields when needed. To better manage the water, he also built a check dam on the small stream on his farm by himself to have more water in his ponds.

Being able to read the weather thanks to its traditional knowledge is also key to organizing his agricultural planning

Mr Phajorae also counts on his traditional knowledge to forecast the rainfalls. Several signs of nature can inform him about the upcoming rains and their intensity. According to local knowledge, if the tail of one of the local wild animal is yellow, it means that the rain will be less and not fall continuously. If the fruits of the fig tree are high, the rain will be less in that year; if the fruit grow in the lower part of the tree, rain will be more in that year. He also uses the traditional knowledge to select the location for digging the pond by observing the wetness of the land area. The wetness of the land can indicate that there is underground water in the area.  The water level of his pond increases and is fully filled by underground water after one year of digging.

Sharing and learning, the secret of the success of our project!

As part of the project, Mr. Phajorae will be a central point of learning and sharing with the other member of the community to convince other farmers to follow his path. His knowledge and experience are indeed very valuable, and to facilitate the adoption of integrating farming he also has on his plot a small tree nursery to be sure that all farmers can easily find seedlings and change little by little their practices.

Why did he accept to share his knowledge with others? He wants to improve the others’ condition of life so that they improve their livelihoods and avoid coming to steal from his plots!

By Aurélie Ceinos
2013, Décember

Mr Phajorae during the meeting © Phalakorn Paomai / CARE

Mr. Phajorae watering the tree nursery © Phalakorn Paomai / CARE