Since joining in 1999, she has now become the head of the Northern Organic Standard Association, which currently has over 20 member farms in the Chiang Mai region. She told me that only 0.2% of Thailand’s population currently knows and understands the dangers of chemical use. The foreign companies have inundated the radio stations, television, and newspapers with advertisements. According to Nang, they have manipulated governments to promote their poison, and now the soil fertility is decreased, the seed varieties have been lost, the farmers are broke, and the pests are everywhere. I admired her presence. She commanded respect and was definitely the matriarch of this farm. She spoke kindly and softly, “If we grow for the market, we need good yield and appearance to survive. This is why Thai farmers use so many chemicals. When you grow for yourself, you don’t need to use chemicals. If we use organic methods, we become friends with the environment and can survive together..."And from this article on the Asok movement:
I asked about organics here and why more farmers do not try it. Inquiring, “Do they sell for higher prices at the market? “ She replied, “The community here is not very supportive, but the NGO’s are. They help to teach farmers to grow organically, but they can’t compete with the advertising power of the chemical companies. Now the farmers have too much debt to try organics. They are scared and worried about low yields.”
After a large economic collapse in Thailand six years ago, communities began hosting seminars on organic agriculture and self-reliance. Eventually, these were even funded by the government, in an effort to relieve the debt of poor farmers who had invested too heavily in chemicals and agricultural equipment. This is often felt to be a bit ironic, because it was the government, lobbied by companies, which promoted modern farming practices in the first place.