Northeast rainfed agricultural development project in Thailand (1981-1988) : a Women in Development reassessment

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Northeast rainfed agricultural development project in Thailand (1981-1988) : a Women in Development reassessment
Series Title:
Conference on Gender Issues in Farming Systems Research and Extenion, University of Florida, February 26 to March 1, 1986
Blanc-Szanton, M. Cristina
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
University of Florida. ( LCSH )
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- Thailand

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Full Text

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M.Cristina Blanc-Szanton
Ana Maria Viveros-Long
Nongluck Suphanchaimat

Paper presented at the Conference on Gender Issues in Farming Systems
Research and Extension, February 26 March 1, 1986, University o+
Florida, Gainesville, Florida


1. Country: Thailand

2. Project Title: Northeast Rainfed Agricultural Development

3. Project Number: 4930308

4. Years: 1981-1988

5. Project Funding: Obligated: AID: $6.3 M (L); $3.7 M (G)
RTG: $5.7 M
Expended: AID $-0.8M (L); ($1.4 M (G))

6. Project Description: To establish a'replicable agriculture
development program for increasing farm productivity and farm
incomes particularly among lower income farmers in rainfed
agricultural zones. (Project Clarification, September 1984)

7. Project Goals:

a. Increase the economic well-being of poorer Northeast
Thailand farm families (Project Paper, 1981)

b. Increase the economic well being and quality of life of
the poor Northeast farm families on a sustainable basis.
(Revised Project Manager's Logical Framework, 4/1983)

8. Project Purposes:

a. Establish in eight representative tambons of Northeast
Thailand a replicable agricultural development program
for increasing farm productivity and farm incomes, par-
ticularly among lower income farmers in rainfed agri-
cultural zones. (Logical Framework, 1981)

b. Develop in nine representative tambons a replicable
farming systems approach to solving critical agricultural
problems confronting poor farmers in rainfed agricultural
zones in the Northeast. (Revised Project Manager's
Logical Framework, April 1983)

1. Introduction

This paper presents a mid-term evaluation of an AID agricultural

development/farming systems project still on-going in Thailand. It

demonstrates that in a Southeast Asian rural setting where the male and

female systems of production, processing, marketing and division of

resources are not as clearly differentiated within the household as in

much of Africa, gender constraints may still play a very significant

role in insuring or hindering the ultimate success of a farming system

project. Evaluation and impact assessment studies have demonstrated

this very convincingly in African cases. In the Southeast Asian

development world there is still the strong assumption that because

women have a strong presence and roles not as clearly differentiated

from those of men as in other cultures, development project do not need

to worry about their effects on women or about the negative implications

of a lack of gender-aware project planning and implementation. This

paper will argue, through a case-study, that it is precisely because of

Southeast Asian rural women's strong presence and undifferentiated

roles, that their project participation should be analysed, encouraged

and valued.

2. Basic Progget Data

The idea for the NERAD project originated from early discussions

(1978) between key officials of Thailand Ministry of Agriculture, who

had rural area development as a mandate and wanted some funds for pilot

agricultural research and more effective agricultural extension in the

poor rainfed Northeast region, and the Thailand Mission whose country

strategies at the time reflected the AID general basic needs policy "to

reduce absolute poverty and accelerate rural development in backward

areas" (CDSS FY83, February 1981, p.39). By 1981, after much expert

discussion and background studies, AID obligated $6.3 M as loan and $3.7

M as grant for a larger size project than initially anticipated. The

Royal Thai Government contributed another $5.7 M.

Subsequent changes in NERAD's implementation emphases were

affected by: (1) shifts in Thailand's national priorities towards a

more decentralized participatory approach to development, (2) the

reorientation of the AID country policy away from dealing directly with

the poor and towards longer-term institutional and policy constraints

(CDSS FY86, June 1984), and (3) the initial frustrations of

bureaucratic implementation and overly centralized top-down decisions

faced by the project management team. This led to the progressive

adoption of better feed-back mechanisms from the farmers back into the

research team and the Thai bureaucracy. It also led to a shift from

adoption of new crops or practices to the improvement of existing

cropping cycles, and finally it led to greater focus on long-term

institutional concerns.

3. EPoiEt ECrposes and Goals

The major objective of NERAD since its beginnings was "to

address the needs of the rural poor in Northeast Thailand by

establishing in 8 subdistricts a replicable, area-based agricultural

technology development program for increasing productivity and farm

incomes in rainfed agricultural zones". By 1988, it was hoped that the

Ministry of Agriculture would have adopted an effective, low-cost,

systematic process for analyzing and resolving the key technical

constraints to agricultural production in rained areas and be prepared

to extend the system beyond the 8 subdistricts. The major components of

the project at its onset included: (1) the identification and assessment

of improved farming practices, such as new subsistence or cash crop

technologies, improved water utilization and better animal husbandry;

(2) improvements of basic land and water resources; (3) a more effective

extension system, closely linked to research, and (4) the establishment

of interactive means of matching Thailand government technology

development, programs and resources with farmers' needs and problems

(Project Paper 1981: Part I, B). In order to achieve these objectives,

the project organized working groups (Cropping Systems 1982, Village

Water Ressources 1982, Village Land Use Management 1983 Other Farming

Systems Interventions 1983 Marketing and Economic Analysis 1984),

researched existing physical resources to improve planned interventions,

and provided management and general coordination with nine departments

in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

During its first five years of implementation, the project goals

shifted from more narrowly economic concerns to more broadly qualitative

ones ("quality of life"). The project purposes shifted from a rural

area development focus to a problem-solving farming systems approach.

Finally attention was increasingly focused on institutional factors,

that is, on improving MOAC capacity "to develop adaptive research and

extension systems","to deliver relevant and appropriate services to

rainfed farmers", and to listen to farmers' suggestions (1981 and 1983

Logical Frameworks, 1984 Project Clarification).

4. Theme

The main theme all along was improvement of the overall

productive performance and income generation potentials of the already

diversified Northeast rainfed agricultural sector as well as to further

increase crop diversification, to be achieved through: (a) the selection

of eight subdistricts well representing the diversity of the

Northeastern region; (b) the assessment of available technological

options based on improved flows of information and interaction between

extension workers, agricultural technicians and farmers; (c) the

development of village-level specialist farmers, especially trained in

the whole range of existing farming systems activities, for testing and

dissemination of the relevant information; and (d) continued attention

to the problems of wider replication of the project elsewhere in


5. Iplefmrenting Institutions

The NERAD project defined from the very beginning the main

implementors as well as ultimate beneficiaries of its 'efforts as

households, in this case "poor Northeastern farm families" (Logical

Frameworks 1981 and 1983) by proposing to select specialist farmers for

trials and testing and then disseminate their more successful

innovations to other farm families. These households were presented as

undifferentiated units, black boxes that were given tasks and would

presumably perform them in order to collect presumably equally shared

benefits. Their internal composition, mode of operation, constraints,

internally differentiated incentives structure and cost/benefits were

not adequately analyzed. The project also had as a secondary goal to

improve intermediary institutions, in this case the Thai agricultural

extension system, and to coordinate the work of nine separate

departments from the Ministry of Agriculture, each with its separate

budget and decision-making process, in order to achieve potentials for

continuity and replication.

6. Project tagrqettinq

The NERAD Project Paper did not specifically target women as

project participants or beneficiaries. It did list them in one Rassing

eacagranh as "expected to benefit at least as much as men in most

project activities and Epossibly3... relatively more than men in a few

of them such as silk production and animal husbandry" (Project Paper


The analysis of gender-related issues in the project design barely

acknowledged the flexibility in the division of labor of agricultural

activities in NE Thai households and the fact that women often

controlled the land and usually managed the household budget (Appendix

VII: 16). These elements were not incorporated into project design and

implementation. Other background studies, including a socioeconomic

survey of households in 66 villages in the NE region, also did not

analyze gender issues, or the potentials for farm household labor


During the five years implementation there has been no further
gender analysis by the project. Only silk production, already

recognized in the Project Paper as a female activity, has been targeted

to women. Silk production was still at a very early stage of

development. The relevant findings and recommendations of an April 1982

"baseline survey of women's roles and household resource allocation"

conducted by Imgrid Palmer in 12 villages of the NERAD project, ( with

funds from the Program Policy Coordination Bureau through The Population

Council), were never incorporated in the project nor translated into


7. Prject Imlementation

During the implementation phase, the project had an impact on

women, both positively and negatively. This had direct consequences for

project success. Women actively participated in the different and

complex facets of the project by providing at least half of the labor

and by selectively receiving some project inputs such as training in

silk production. But the project has also increased the amount of labor

required from women because: (1) the new crop alternations are

generally more labor intensive and crop diversification implies that

agricultural labor is more evenly scattered all along the year, and (2)

there is a generally rising occurrence of seasonal and yearly migration

of rural men to earn cash from off-farm activities ( rural, urban or

Middle East). Rural women have thus had to take over the portion of

farming activities usually performed by their fathers, husbands,

brothers, or sons. This has led to labor constraints within the farm

household. Increased female labor utilization also had implications for

the overall quality of life of rural NE household members since women

have become less available for housework and child care.

Women have also been excluded from benefits in a number of

domains, each of which very directly affects the success of the project:

(1) They are not consulted in the research phase about those

farming activities which are more specifically theirs and which are

often crucial for attempts at increasing rural productivity (poultry

raising, vegetable growing and marketing, cash crop processing,

planting, harvesting);

(2) Female-headed or female-managed households, often a significant

number of the middle-income households at the village level, are

systematically not selected as specialist farmers for crop trials or

other farming activities (with the exception of silk production), thus

not having direct access, as households, to the related inputs. This

contributes to socioeconomic distortions of village level selections.

(3) Rural women in general are'consistently and systematically

excluded from training in the new technology of machine ploughing, new

seed selection, crop growing, fertilizers and pesticides applications,

weeders, harvesters and processing machines, poultry, fishing and

livestock caring, etc., in other words those very activities which

they perform regularly on the farm.

8. Project Outgcmes

By March 1985 the project had spent $0.8 M (L) and $1.4 M (G) of

the AID funds altogether, mostly in the grant component of the project

which finances the technical assistance provided by the University of

Kentucky rather than in the loan component which includes construction,

cropping and farming systems activities.

The implementation of project components, especially at the

farming level, is considerably behind schedule. This is in part

attributed to institutional difficulties and the resulting slow delivery

of agricultural inputs. Observations from this field study and other

supporting evidence from other studies suggest that the lack of

attention and adaptation of the project to gender issues and their

simplistic assumptions about the household as an undifferentiated unit

may have also significantly contributed to project inefficiencies.

Thus for example the development of appropriate agricultural

technologies may be jeopardized because the project is getting

information only from male farmers and is not paying attention to the

fact that women carry out at least half of the farming tasks, own the

land and manage the household budget. Women farmers have thus a

different perspective on farming tasks as well as on the utilization of

cash and labor that is not incorporated into the project decision-making


Erratic yields in cropping trials, a consistent problem of the

Cropping Systems Workgroup and of the Research Team, appears to be in

part caused by ecological factors (weather unreliability, soil

variability). However labor constraints at key agricultural seasons and

absence of needed technological know-how at the critical time, also

appear to have significantly limited their optimal results. The project

strategy of crop diversification and improved inputs is very labor

intensive. Because of off-farm work and migration, these increased labor

demands are mostly being absorbed by Thai women farmers. The Research

Team cited labor constraints as affecting the timely care of rice, corn,

white sesame during peak labor season (p.57) and thus their productivity

in 1984. This field study identified labor constraints due to seasonal

or yearly migration as affecting the kinds and number of crops planted

and their subsequent caring (tobacco, cowpeas). Finally the field

interviews also demonstrated the negative consequences of aiming

technology training only to men. Women performing those key

agricultural activities because of the absence of male relatives would

misplant pre- and post-rice crops (peanut, sesame, baby corn) or new

rice varieties (direct-sown rice) or root crops and mis-apply pesticides

and fertilizers, thus causing serious productivity loss.

Labor constraints were further compounded by the non-utilization

by women farmers of labor-saving devices provided by the project such as

hand-tractors for ploughing or hand-weeders, because they lacked the

necessary technological know-how.

There were negative responses to training provided by the project

in other farming systems activities such as poultry, fish raising,

livestock improvement, fruit trees, that could also be directly

attributed to lack of gender adaptation. This training was exclusively

provided to male farmers because of the particular selection procedures

of trainees among specialist farmers. Male farmers would enter a

training program but then drop out at the implementation stage because

their wives and daughters refused to provide the labor or preferred

another, less labor intensive, farming system activity (fish raising

rather than poultry for example). In the case of training for silk

production, the only activity expressely targeted to women in the

project, the location, timing and duration of the training did not

respond to the needs and constraints of the female trainees and caused

their mass drop-out.

Women's cooperative participation is required at every step of the

way. Even production credit, supplied by government and commercial

banks, required the signature and approval of the women, who very

frequently own the agricultural land.

Finally the marketing of new and old crops and other outputs from

the Northeastern rainfed farming system experienced serious problem

which the project is just beginning to address. Since some of the pre-

and post-rice crops are exclusively marketed by women, NERAD's neglect

to include them in the implementation planned by the Marketing Workgroup

is likely to cause more problems in the future.

More generally, the increased labor requirements placed on

Northeastern women farmers by the NERAD project, given their already

overburdened schedule, appeared, on the basis of the field study, to

have some potentially negative long-term effects on the nutrition and

well-being of their households.

The evaluation of the NERAD project from a gender perspective is

demonstrating that in those social contexts where women have strong

decision-making and managerial positions in rural household, the neglect

to encourage their active cooperation in project design and

implementation may lead to significant project inefficiencies and delays

and actually jeopardize the ultimate goals of the project. In the case

of NERAD, the lack of systematic gender analysis and adaptation seems to

originate as (1) faulty assumptions among project planners and managers

about household internal behavior and (2) the neglect of careful

assessments of existing distortions (socio-economic and by gender) in

the farmer specialists selection procedures currently utilized by the

Department of Agricultural Extension. This translated in project

shortcomings in the areas of labor constraints, technology transfer,

trial success rates and overall improvement of the quality of life.


Northeast Rainfed Agqricultural Developgment Project

I. Location

a. Country: Thailand

b. In the Northeast Region, one of the four regions in the country, the
NERAD project selected four out of the sixteen provinces (Sisaket,
Nakhon Phanom, Chaiyaphum and Roi-et), two subdistricts in each province
(eight out of 1,076, now nine because one split) and, for the crop
trials, one principal village in each subdistrict (nine principal
villages out of one hundred and one villages). The subdistricts were
chosen to represent the major range of agro-ecological and agro-economic
variation present in the Northeast.



Nakhon Phanom




Na Thom
Na Ngua
Kwang Jon
Nong Kaew
Na Muang

2. Environment

a. Latitude: 10 to 20 degree for the whole country,
degree for the Northeast

between 14 and 18

b. Elevation: except for hilly areas along the western and southern
border, the Northeast consists mostly of a very flat plain or plateau
tilted gently towards the southeastern corner. The elevation is about
200 m on the western border, 500 m on the southern border but for the
most part less than 150 m. Most of the project area is in that latter

c. Temperature:

(1) Annual pattern: 25 to 38 C. It can reach exceptional lows
of 10 C in December and highs of 41 C in April-May. The mean monthly
temperature is lowest in December-January with 22.5 C, then gradually
increases to reach 30 C in April.

(2) Specific during trial period: within regular range

(3) Daily max-min: the daily range of temperature is minimal during
the whole rainy season (June to October), usually around 26 to 29 C. It
is somewhat more marked for a few weeks in December and during the hot


dry season, particularly April/May.

d. Precipitation

(1) Pattern: Erratic. Usually a bimodal rainfall distribution with a
rainy season starting in late May, a first rainfall peak during which
rice is transplanted in late June-early July, continued rain during
August and a second rainfall peak in September, petering down during
October. November marks the beginning of the dry season, which reaches
its hottest, driest, peak during March and April. This pattern is based
on a 50% rainfall probability over a 25-year period. Frequent variations
include April/May and August/September rainfall peaks, droughts in
June-July at rice-transplanting time, and low rainfall in August-
September while the rice is growing.

(2) Specific during trial period (1982-1985): Each of the trial years
had some erratic variations. The varying pattern described above was
characteristic of 1984 in particular.

(3) Monthly rainfall (in millimeters) varies greatly according to
provinces. It is lowest for Chaiyaphum, located behind the hills of the
western border of the region ( 1200 isohytes), increases for Sisaket and
Roi-et on the center plateau (1200-1400) and is highest for the
provinces along the eastern border such as Nakhon Phanom.

Monthly (mlm) June September Dry Season lows

Chaiyaphum 70 170 5
Sisaket 180 220 ca 5
Roi-et 200-210 260-280 0-3
Nakhon Phanom 210-220 260-270 5

(2) Specific during trial period

(3) The mean relative humidity ranges between approximately 60% in March
to about 80% in August or September with some variations in the curve
by NERAD provinces.

(4) Irrigated: Only 5% of the Northeast 17 million ha (1/3 of the
country's land area, 1/2 of its farmed land) are irrigated. The
remaining 95% are rainfed. 20% of the presently cultivated area are
irrigable. The NERAD project area has comparable percentages.

e. Soils

With the exception of some limestone areas in the hills, virtually
all soils in the Northeast are derived from sandstone, shale or
siltstone and therefore are inherently low in potassium, calcium,
magnesium and phosphorous. Being highly weathered, they are extremely
sandy and have low organic matter and clay (predominantly kaolinitic)
contents. Low clay contents combined with the low activity of its
kaolinitic minerals give rise to soils of extremely low cation exchange
and buffering capacities which are often extremely acidic especially
when dry. In addition, parts of the region are underlain by salt

bearing rock, often quite close to the surface, giving rise to
geologically induced salinity problems in some areas.

Based on topography and water regimes, 5 major agro-ecosystems can be
identified for Northeast Thailand: hill, mini-watershed and non-flood
plain (with low, middle and high terraces), flood-plain, and irrigated
systems with paddy along rivers.

Soil Classification and Major crops by NERAD project area

Hills Mostly Paleostults (loamy, fine-clayey),. Haplustalfs
Upland rice, cassava, maize, mungbean, sorghum

Mini-Watershed Mostly Paleostult and Paleaquult
Cassava, kenaf, sugarcane, watermelon, short- and long-duration

Non-flood plain Mostly Paleoquults, some Paleostult and Dystropept
Cassava, kenaf sugarcane, peanut, rice and peanut/tobacco,
sesame-rice, long-duration rice, kenaf-rice-watermelon, rice-
rice, rice-peanut/corn/vegetables

Flood-plain Mostly Tropaquepts, some Paleoquults and Dystropepts
fruit trees, vegetables, long-duration rice, rice-vegetables

Tropaquepts semi-recent alluvial
Paleoquults low humic gley old alluvium
Paleostults red-yellow/gray podzolic

Very Low Soil Fertility Level

Nitrogen 18
Phosphorus 7
Potassium 56

Very low Productivity Level

Slope: From Flood-plain to Low, Middle and High Terrace, to Upland

55.5% of all arable land in the project area are low terrace, 25% middle
terrace,11.8% high terrace, 7.3% flood plain

3. Socio-economic

a. The median and average farm size distribution in the project area is
4.8 ha. The range goes from 3.4 to 6.7 ha. There is considerable
variability within and between villages. Because of other sources of
income through off-farm migration and the great variation in ecological
zones and productivity, farm size per se only poorly correlates with
household income, the relationship remaining valid only at the two

extremes of the range.
The mean size of farms engaged in NERAD cropping trials is unknown
but they are likely to cluster, because of selection distortions, on the
higher end of the range.

b. Land Tenure: Smallholding primarily. Only about 6% of all farmers in
the selected villages were landless, another 13% worked their
parents'land but had none of their own. others still farmed a
combination of own and parents' land.

c. The majority of the 65,000 inhabitants of the eight project
subdistricts are ethnically Lao, a language group closely related to
Thai, and are called Isan. Within the project area there are also other
cultural groups such as Chinese and Vietnamese descendants, Yo and Phu

d. Access to input markets:
Private markets for fertilizers are uniformly priced and with
reasonably rapid availability of stock. Farmers' cooperatives on the
other hand, partially subsidized by the government, offer 12 to 16%
lower prices, but their stock is often delivered considerably late.
Animal feed, pesticide, animal medication and equipment markets suffer
from occasional serious malfunctions such as adulteration, false labels
and non-competitive pricing. Seed markets also suffered from critical
shortages at peak times and late deliveries.

Output markets face serious constraints resulting from (1) limited
marketing potentials of subsistence glutinous rice, only a staple in two
of the country's regions, (2) glut of highly perishable seasonal
vegetables (yardlong beans, sweet corn, tomatoes) and watermelon
production, (3) in-country competition for easily transportable products
such as garlic, also produced in the north, or Sisaket red onions, (4)
uncontrollable fluctuations in the price of export items such as kenaf
or cassava. It requires the availability of up-to-date quality
marketing information to producers.

e. Access to credit: Production credit is available to all farmers and
farmers'groups through the heavily government subsidized Bank for
Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, at relatively low interest
rates. BAAC provides mostly small loans (averaging 200$) to large
numbers of farmers. Commercial banks, still representing an important
component of all credit to farmers, give out larger loans, averaging
1,000 $, to a smaller number of more well-to-do farmers.

f. The annual per capital income of farmers in the Northeast is the
lowest in the nation, averaging $79-130 in 1981. Northeasteners
represent 2/3 of all Thai living below the annual poverty line defined
as $120 in 1979-1980 by the World Bank.

4. Nature of C r ng System

Largely subsistence glutinous rice varieties remain the major
crop, mostly rained grown on the low and middle terrace or on the edge
of the flood plain, and with low productivity (200-300 kg/rai). Some
non-glutinous rice is now being grown for sale in Sisaket. Local

varieties of kenaf (jute) and cassava are grown on the middle and high
terrace, with low yields (150 kg/rai and 2,000 kg/rai respectively).
Because of unreliable production and marketing conditions, that
make cash cropping a risky venture, local farmers use survival
strategies rather than maximization strategies. They minimize cash
inputs (fertilizers, pesticides) and use nonfarming household strategies
(mostly labor migration) for cash generation.
The project's objectives has been to improve the total income of
the farming households by increasing productivity and by multiple
cropping of new or improved cash crops.

b. Labor requirements

1) Women in rural households share almost equally in field,
processing and marketing labor. While men may have the heaviest share in
ploughing, women provide up to 73% of the labor for harvesting, 30% of
spraying and 30 to 50% of transplanting and weeding. They often have
most of the responsibility for processing (kenaf for example) and they
carry on the marketing of post-rice crops like watermelon and vegetables
(IRRI 1985:8, Evaluation Field Report 1985). Because of the absence of a
rigid division of labor by gender, women will take charge of field labor
in the absence of male household members due to off-farm migration.
Women play also a major role in farm and household management of cash
income. Finally Northeastern women have legal customary right to
agricultural land in a social system which is still heavily matrilocal
(72%, as opposed to 52% in the north of Thailand, 35% in the center, or
25% in the south (Podhisita 1984:89, 90ff)).

2) Hired/Family The project area demonstrated a limited
utilization of hired labor for growing the subsistence crop, glutinous
rice. There was however some increase in hired labor in villages with
heavy out-migration of males and teenagers. Cash crops, and particularly
kenaf in Chaiyaphum, utilized a considerable amount of hired labor. This
was evident in strongly socio-economically differentiated villages such
as Lahan.
In the case of the utilization of mostly household labor, still
the dominant pattern, child labor seems to play a minor role (but in the
case of kenaf processing in Chaiyaphum). Female labor on the other hand
is very heavily relied upon and may become overstretched, particularly
in the case of young families with small children or families with many
members migrating off-farm to earn cash (Palmer 1983:42-51, 85).

c. Energy requirements of cropping system
manual planting, transplanting, weeding, spraying, harvesting,
tying bundles, threshing, winnowing, carrying, processing,
animal land preparation (mostly ploughing)
mechanical the utilization of farm machinery in the Northeast has
been limited. With respect to other regions, there are few four or
two-wheel tractors, water pumps or corn sellers and rice
threshers (World Bank 1983:66, Table 3.11). The numbers have
increased in the project area since NERAD provides two-wheel
tractors, and now potentially handweeders and seeders as well

d. Cash requirements
1) Price of key inputs It was estimated that production costs,
including farm investments costs, would increase from 2,102 baht
per hh (fertilizers 599 and hired labor 454 for paddy, fertilizer
809 and hired labor 215 for other crops) to 4,338 baht per hh
(fertilizer 1,006 and hired labor 554 for paddy, fertilizer 2,354
and hired labor 432 for other crops) Project Paper, Annex VI-3
The farmers are however not responding to incentives of increasing
their inputs and thus cash outlays as much as expected.

2) Price of products Estimated at 12,658 baht per hh before the
project and 18,176 baht per hh after the project interventions,
these values have been subject to tremendous variations from year
to year, making them quite unreliable. Erratic output marketing is
a major problem for the project.

e. Other field-household interactions
animal care (cattle, water buffaloes, poultry) by women and
children, fish production in ponds, tree planting eucalyptuss and
fruit trees for the project), digging of wells and irrigation works
(volunteer labor for the project or just yearly digging of water
holes), watering of vegetable and other crops from near-by wells,
land leveling when necessary

f. Labor constraints
The labor constraints imposed by the new, more intensive and
diversified cropping systems have been considerable, especially
during rice planting (May-June-July) and rice harvesting
(September-October-November) times when rice cultivation tasks
overlap with pre- and post-rice crop tasks. Another secondary peak
season for labor is when labor-intensive vegetable growing overlaps
with harvesting, processing, marketing of post-rice crops and land
preparation of pre-rice crops (February-March-April). These are
also times of peak male off-farm migration to earn cash.

5. Trial Details

a. There have been to-date up to 20 cro2 modifications tested,
each with specific strategies appropriate to different ecological

On Low Terraces, representing 55% of all arable land in the project
area, the project is trying to increase rice productivity through new
rice varieties, heavy fertilizer applications, increases in pre- and
post-rice cash crops such as vegetables, watermelon, peanuts, sesame,
mungbeans) and improved water utilization.

On the Middle Terraces, 25% of all project arable land, increase in crop
yields was hoped by encouraging the use of a mixture of traditional rice
varieties and glutinous/non-glutinous direct-seeded varieties. This
modification was designed to diminish problems of erratic rainfall that
cause late transplanting and poor mid-season growth, thus adversely
affecting productivity. Other modifications included the use of
machinery (weeder,seeder) and fertilizers and expansion into higher, not
yet cultivated, areas.

On the High terrace, 11.8% of all project arable land, the project
is hoping to introduce new crops (peanuts, mungbeans, sesame) to
alternate with existing cash crops (kenaf and cassava). It is also
introducing new varieties of kenaf and cassava, and the use of
fertilizing techniques to increase productivity, and decrease soil

On the flood plain areas, 7.3% of all project arable land, the project
plans to shift to new deep-water rice varieties, using fertilizers to
limit growth problems due to flooding, and introducing short-duration
(70-80 days) pre- and post-rice crops (mungbeans, sesame, peanuts) and
off-season vegetable crops with improved irrigation (dykes, submerged
dams, swamp removal).

The greatest success among local farmers has been registered so far with
pre-rice green manure crops (cowpeas and mungbeans in particular) that
are then ploughed ib as fertilizers before rice planting. Pre-rice
peanuts also show promise. All pre-rice crops however experienced
problems of late planting (often due to labor constraints) that led to
subsequent waterlogging. Bed and furrow planting systems, also labor
intensive, appear to be required to improve drainage. Kenaf and jute
have been improved though the new varieties raise new problems of
processing and thus increase labor constraints on women. Direct-sown
dry-seeded rice in upper paddies appears promising. Finally post-rice,
deep-rooted, short-duration or drought resistant crops, and vegetables
with supplemental watering (watermelon and pumpkin) are doing well but
present serious marketing problems.

Over 100 cropping trials have been carried out in the project area
between 1983 and 1985, with over 300 participating farmers. However the
data on layouts, plot sizes, harvested areas, etc. as well as economic
assessments per farmer have not yet been systematically tabulated in all
of those individual cases. The research team has produced instead some
impressive overall crop assessments.

Pre-project cropping systems already included kenaf as a pre-rice crop
and watermelons, vegetables (mostly yardlong beans) and tobacco as post-
rice crops.

b. Level of farmers involvement
The selection of specialist and participating farmers for the NERAD
project has followed the already existing selection procedures by
Department of Agricultural Extension Agents. This was decided during
some of the early implementation meetings of the project managers and
the Department of Agriculture officials. Unfortunately those selections
in designated principal villages occur during formal village meetings
called by the headmen and present strong socio-economic and gender
distrotions. The headmen families and friends, usually belonging to the
nbetter-off segments of the village, are often selected. Middle-Low
income farm families and female-headed or temporarily female-managed
households, representing up to 44% or more of all farm households (1985
Field Survey, 1980 Socio-economic Survey) have very little chance of
being selected.

6. Factors to relate the trial back to the farming system

This is an area presenting major problems for the NERAD project:
a. The project has lacked an effective self-monitoring and evaluation
system that would assess the social and economic costs and benefits of
these crop modifications, year by year, for individual farmers with
different land and labor conditions.

b. The project has faced serious infrastructural limitations such as
(1) the problem of generating the necessary cooperation and coordination
of effort among the nine Ministry of Agriculture Departments involved in
different, but related, aspects of the project, and (2)'the lack of
sufficient agricultural extension agents to monitor all project
activities at the local level and their already overextended 'schedules
(due in part to other on-going development projects in the area). The
ratio of extension agents to farmers has been improved considerably in
the project area, thanks to extra-hiring by NERAD (interestingly one
third of all extension agents in Thailand are women and very effective
in their jobs at that). But the problem still remains.