Monday, June 16, 2008

Thailand - One Tambon One Project (OTOP)

While I was in Thailand I visited one of their OTOP project in Nongpakrang village in Chiangmai. It offers traditional Thai massage. They have a 71 year grandma who work on one of my friends. She has powerful fingers, elbows and knees. I was worked on by a 50 year old. Every tensed muscle was worked on. I will have more on this in my next blog.

Paper products in San Khampaeng

The OTOP is a grassroot project was initiated under ex-Prime Minister (2001-2006) Thaksin Shinawatra in 2001. The original concept was developed and successfully implemented by Morihiko Hiramatsu under the name, One Village One Product (OVOP) in Japan. This has since spread to many countries incl. Philippines, Malaysia, Malawi and others.

Despite having its detractors the project was successful. Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), one of the key financiers of OTOP reported up to 80% of the projects are sustainable. It effective empowered the villagers by allowing them into the decision-making process in the selection, design, marketing and pricing of their products. By including the producers which uses local wisdom and resources into the design and marketing will put more of the final sale price into the hands. Before most of the money from the sale goes to the middle man.

These sustainable projects help to elevate poor Thais out of poverty. The key concept is to market at least one key product from each village to the national and international market. It could be a product or a service. Products includes earthworms, mushrooms, dried vegetables and fruits, crafted buffalo horns and etc.

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