Chonburi marks National Co-operatives Week

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Chonburi marked a century of agricultural cooperatives with a week-long celebration of the prince who first had farmers pool their resources.

Gov. Khomsan Ekachai kicked of National Cooperatives Week Feb. 23 at Banglamung School, saying agricultural co-ops brought strength, harmony, generosity and unity to the Thai farming sector.

Pratheep Nuwanna, the province’s co-op promotion director, said cooperatives were launched at the end of the reign of King Rama V by Prince Bidyalongkarana when Thailand opened up to international trade, changing the self-sufficient model of Thai agriculture. Costs went up and poor farmers were exploited by loan sharks.

Gov. Khomsan Ekachai (6th right) kicked of National Cooperatives Week at Banglamung School, saying agricultural co-ops brought strength, harmony, generosity and unity to the Thai farming sector.

The first co-op – Wat Chan Cooperative Unlimited in Phitsanulok – was launched on Feb. 26, 1916, supplying loans and grants for farmers who lacked capital to invest in their businesses. It was seen as a key factor in the country’s development, Pratheep explained.

The commemoration is rotated year in Chonburi among its various co-ops, with Banglamung Cooperative taking the helm this year. Director Manop Sirimak invited nine monks to chant and receive alms.

The fair also provided a history lesson on co-ops, a discussion of its current operation, local sports competitions and product sales.

Plaques also were presented to six cooperatives judged as having good governance. Funds also were disbursed to two co-ops for their sufficiency-economy promotion campaigns: Three Districts Development Agricultural Cooperative and Sriracha Gardening Agricultural Group.

Furthermore, plaques honoring outstanding organizational management were awarded to Marine Corps Savings and Credit Cooperative and Fleet Training Command Savings and Credit Cooperative.

Events continued Feb. 24 with a 100-year-anniversary meeting hosted by the Chonburi Cooperatives Department, where attendees watched a video presentation of a Cooperatives Day speech by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha.

The speech provided a chance for the government to speak directly to co-op leaders about government agricultural policy.

An awards ceremony also was shown honoring the country’s best co-ops.