The areas of southern border provinces are considered as the plantation areas of Para rubber, the major economic crop, due to their landscapes that facilitate good productivity of Para rubber growing. For rice field, it was found that most farmers grow rice for household consumption mainly. When insurgency was occurred, some people abandoned their rice fields making them to buy rice for consumption. Subsequently, there is a group of new generation in Wang District, Narathiwat Province led by Muhummad Bing, the youth leader who gathers his friend in his village with the same thinking to learn together with the goal to develop abandoned rice fields to become the sources of food for local people again under the guidelines on organic farming. Their idea is supported by community leaders and government agencies helping to make dreams of this group of new generation to come true as the Farmer School of Ban Laha Community.
From a small beginning with demand on learning and developing abandoned rice fields to be plentiful again, their idea has currently been developed to inspire other persons. The Farmer School of Ban Laha Community is developed as the learning center of local people with the major objective to be the center for meeting, consulting, and discussion of local people on all problems before espousing the King’s Philosophy to solve problems together. They mutually learn on the concept of sufficiency economy through doing at demonstration planting plots of new theory agriculture helps to promote occupation and income to local people and inspire visitors as well as pass on knowledge to new generation and anyone interested. In addition, it also fosters local people to love and be proud with their hometowns.
Anyone interested to learn at Farmer School of Ban Laha Community will learn through doing in rice fields including herbal insect repellent station, Bokashi fertilizer station, backyard garden station, Para rubber tapping station, ploughing station, harvesting-threshing station, community mill, and bad and good insects in rice field survey station. These learning processes mutually created and developed by them have the important goal, i.e., building food security for local people because food is the important factor for surviving of everyone. They often conclude that “Products of rice farming are more than rice.” referring to strong community with the network that is ready to solve problems and overcome economic crises stably as well as attach to sufficiency and do sustainable farming without using any chemical for eco-friendliness.
Currently, among unexpected situations like COVID-19 pandemic, it is proved that architecture is another interesting alternative occupation. When many people travel back to their hometowns for escaping from COVID-19 pandemic, they want to learn on organic agriculture increasingly. Consequently, Farmer School of Ban Laha Community becomes the hub of inspiration making people turn to study on the way of life of new generation farmers that is called Young Smart Farmer because everyone can see that this occupation will enable them to rely on themselves sustainably. Learning occurred at Farmer School of Ban Laha Community is also the way of learning of new generation because it is considered as learning from local wisdom of persons with experiences in various dimensions who express their experiences through discussion and actual actions to make new generation farmers become Smart Farmer with actual knowledge on production, processing, and marketing completely.
During the long period of growth of Farmer School of Ban Laha Community, besides fighting with seasonal changes of each year, Muhammad Bing and his friends had to fight with thinking and values of most people on the use of chemicals for agriculture because it was convenient and rapid. They were familiar with the use of chemicals so it was hard to change their mind to use natural methods that may be slower but more sustainable. From long-term cooperation and driving, there are currently 60 households of farmers who do eco-friendly agriculture in Wang District with the total areas over than 200 rai leading to explicit change, i.e., the way of life with nature of local people backs again and their families have sufficient food for consumption throughout the year.
This is the model of Smart Farmer that can achieve the goals to provide some opportunities to other persons to learn and understand that efficient farming does not only mean gaining a large amount of rice per year but it also includes understanding on food chain and ecosystem, management, cost saving, and value adding of crops. This is the key of business management that will enable generation in New Normal period to do rice farming as their main occupations for living happily in their proud and pleasant multicultural society upon the way of life as they demand sustainably without worrying on changes of surrounding situations.
Anyone interested is able to follow up activities of Farmer School of Ban Laha Community via Facebook Fanpage: โรงเรียนชาวนา ชุมชนบ้านละหา