Special report: Zoning project for agro-Industry in Isan underway to improve productivity


(NNT)Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI)’s Research Director for Labor Development, Human Resources and Social Development Program Dr. Yongyuth Chalamwong said the TDRI has been involved in the Northeastern City Planning project and found that several agricultural issues should be addressed.

The development plan covers Mukdahan, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Sa Kaeo, Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham and Kalasin provinces. According to Dr. Yongyuth, competitions for farmlands are very high among farmers in these areas. He has suggested the zoning approach as a solution to the problem.

Under this method, farmlands can be divided into 3 zones according to their purposes. They include those farmlands specifically developed for growing crops for human consumption while the others would serve as raw materials for animal food and energy production.

The City Planning project is a pilot program by the TDRI in which its purpose is not only to enhance agricultural industry in this region but also to serve as a guideline in planning the use of lands elsewhere in Thailand. Dr. Yongyuth said there are both a short term plan (5 years) as well as a plan that will last between 10-15 years. In terms of economy, he emphasized environmental mindfulness as part of the farmland planning.

All industrial sites will be selected from areas located within the same proximity to prevent the spread of environmental impact on the ecosystems. The TDRI has adopted the “Clean and Green” concept where lands for agricultural and industrial developments will be completely separated from one another.

He also said that a good balance in farm produce is also essential. There should not be just one type of crop grown in a year which Dr. Yongyuth said could prompt product oversupply in the market. Farmers would then be forced to reduce the price of their crops or they could not sell at all while the needs for other types of crops have not been met. Rice, rubber trees and cassava are the top three crops that Isan farmers grow each year.

In addition, a research will be carried out to study what economic potential each province may have. They could become a gateway for Thai exports to the Indo China region as well as tourism with Thailand’s neighboring countries. The agro-industry in the Northeast has contributed much to the Thai economy and should be preserved. However, issues like drought, water shortage and acid soil should also be solved soon.