by Kheetanat Wannaboworn

On 7-9 April 2023, Focus on the Global South together with the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD), Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University; Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute (CUSRI); Northern Peasant Federation; Northern Development Foundation and civil society organizations co-hosted a three-day “Peasant Agroecology Workshop: Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture in the North and Northeastern Thailand” at Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University. The workshop intends to create an open space for peasants, agroecology practitioners, youth, members of civil society, and academia to discuss the concept of agroecology and food sovereignty in the reality of Northern Thailand’s struggles on community rights and defense of land rights coupled with the context of multiple crises especially on corporate capture of food system and aggravating forest and land grabbing in the name of climate solutions.

Dr. Chayan Vaddhanaphuti from RCSD, Chiang Mai University; Dr. Sayamol Charoenratana from Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute (CUSRI); and Kheetanat Wannaboworn from Focus on the Global South speak in the opening session stressing the important of collaboration between civil society and academia to timely address community alternatives in time of climate emergency whereas local wisdom and practices are integral for the articulation of agroecology and food sovereignty concept based on peasant’s experiences to challenge threats from corporate food industry and false climate solutions.

Prof. Dr. Peter Rosset from ECOSUR Advanced Studies Institute Mexico and Visiting Researcher at Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute (CUSRI) starts the discussion with presentation on “Peasant Agroecology to address the multiple crises facing humanity” calling for systemic transformation in the context of multiple crises after COVID and with War in Ukraine including social crisis in rural and urban settings, economic crisis, climate crisis, ecological crisis, and food crisis. With special attention to climate crisis, Prof. Rosset discusses how peasant-led agroecology and food sovereignty have the potential as alternatives on lessening food system emissions. Pakavadi Veerapaspong, translator of “Agroecology: Science and Politics” is the discussant of the presentation.

Prof. Rosset also gives presentation on “Climate, Forest, Carbon, and Circular Economy Policies at the International Level: The Experience of Mexico” on how civil society in Mexico views the Government’s policies on circular economy particularly the impacts of carbon sequestration on community land use and forest management that could become comparative example for Northern Thailand. Dr. Sayamol Charoenrattana from CUSRI is the discussant of the presentation.

Representatives from civil society continue to lead peasant agroecology’s discussions based on the dynamics of peasant’s struggles in Thailand. Sumitchai Hattasarn, Director of Center for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights (CPCR) and Prayong Doklamyai, Director of Northern Development Foundation discussed the concept of “Community rights” in land and natural resources management followed by an open forum on “Community rights, community forest, community title deed, land bank, rotational farming and the Ethnic Groups Reserved Cultural Area” where community representatives share their stories on defense of ancestral forest and community rights.

Witoon Lianchamroon, Secretary of Biodiversity-Sustainable Agriculture-Food Sovereignty Action Thailand (BIOTHAI) and Dr.Kritsada Boonchai, Secretary of Local Development Foundation (LDI) further discussed the concept of “Food sovereignty, Carbon Credit Scheme, and Climate Change in Thailand” addressing how corporate concentration and trade liberalization destroy our food system, health, and environment with clear examples of corn monoculture and its connections with hazardous haze pollutions nowadays.

Patchara Kumchumnan and Suriyan Tonghnueid from Northern Development Foundation moderated the session.

Peasant Agroecology Workshop closed with “Debriefing sessions: Lessons learnt from the food sovereignty movement, agroecology and policy recommendations from the communities and civil societies” with mixed representation of panelists from civil society and academia: Chatchawan Thongdeelert from Chiangmai Breath Council and Chiang Mai Breath Foundation, Teerapon Suwanrungroung, sub-committee of Civil Society Development, Academia and Public policy, Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI), Dr.Chuanchom Boonlahong, Founder of Institute of Alternative Agriculture Communities, Prof. Dr. Attachak Sattayanurak, Department of History, Faculty of Humanities, Chiang Mai University, and Chatchai Thammo, Secretary of Coordinating Committee on Development – North (COD North). The policy recommendations from the workshop will be submitted to political parties’ candidates for the upcoming General Elections while conference proceedings are also expected to be released this year.

Recorded Live:
Peasant Agroecology Workshop: Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture in the North and Northeastern Thailand