Implemented in 2008, The Pangaea Project’s Thailand program has taught students about the impact of chemical farming on villages and the alternatives these communities have sought. Students spend time in Surin, in northeast Thailand, where small scale farmers became industrial agricultural farmers under the Green Revolution, which over time led to degraded soil, poisoned neighboring plants and animals, and health complications for the farmers. With the help of local and international non-governmental organizations, the Surin communities developed their own Fair Trade certified rice market, selling their rice to Europe and the United States.
Pangaea Project students also spend two weeks living and working with, and learning from, members of the Mae Ta community. Located outside of Chiang Mai, residents lived mostly undisturbed until the Bombay-Burma Trading Corporation entered to log teak in the late 1800s. After five successive logging missions, the watershed was nearly destroyed. To address the impact of teak logging, the community organized and created a community forest management strategy and, over time, returned the forest to its pre-logging utility.
The Mae Ta community also became involved in chemical-dependent farming techniques which resulted in increased farmer debt, rural-urban migration, and illness. In response, the community formed a community bank, reverted to the farming techniques of their agrarian past, and developed a farmer's market in Chiang Mai to sell their organic produce.
ABOUT THAILAND: Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. Thailand adopted its current constitution following an August 19, 2007, referendum. Multi-party elections held on December 23, 2007, under the provisions of the new constitution resulted in the People's Power Party (PPP) winning a plurality of the seats in the lower house of Parliament and the formation of a coalition government. In December 2008, a revised coalition led by the previous opposition party, the Democrat Party, came to power. Most of the population is Buddhist and ethnically Thai. Standard Thai is the official language of Thailand and is spoken in every province, though many areas also have a local dialect, and in the deep south, a variant of Malay is widely spoken. Most Thais working in the tourist industry and in businesses dealing with foreigners can speak at least rudimentary English. Thailand is a popular travel destination, and tourist facilities and services are available throughout the country. At many tourist attractions, including national parks, foreigners are charged admission fees up to ten times higher than those charged to Thais. Read the Department of State's Background Notes on Thailand for additional information.
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