Report by the subcommittee on socio-cultural, demographic, and economic aspects
The Situation at Huai Thung Choa
Compared with the location of most highland populations. Huai Thung Choa is
at a relatively high altitude. appears to have far more extensive replacement of
forest by grassland, is less densely settled. and is far better served by heavy
investments in roads and other infrastructural services (schools, health
stations, agricultural advice. marketing assistance. and overall administration
and guidance).' The project area population. in addition to Thai project
personnel, includes four ethnic groups: Karen, Lisu. Hmong, and Northern Thai
Although their settlements are separate, the amount of inter-ethnic contact is
much greater than in most highland areas. In contrast with most people in the
highlands most of the people in the project area have abandoned subsistence
cultivation in favour of wage work or cash cropping, and are rapidly being
persuaded to stop swiddening in favour of permanent upland field cultivation and
use of irrigated or rain-fed terraces. Some former opium growers have apparently
replaced opium with a variety of other cash crops yielding at least as much
Although the site is not representative of most highland areas or the
socio-economic situation of most highland populations. it may illustrate some
future trends, and information from the site will be valuable in planning
development elsewhere in the highlands
Research Needs at Huai Thung Choa and Elsewhere
Research at the project site should be conducted in the following areas.
1. Economic costs, benefits. and risks should be documented, including costs
of capital improvements, costs of maintenance of infrastructural services. flows
of money into and out of the project area associated with the project, and
effects of market related. seasonal, and other fluctuations on the availability
of income and subsistence goods and services.
2. Household economic patterns in the area should be described for each
ethnic group to allow comparison between those accepting project innovations and
those not accepting. as well as attempting to reconstruct and compare economic
patterns before and after acceptance of innovations. Description should include
seasonal variations in employment and work patterns. amounts of land used in the
total system (including that used for watershed protection, for firewood
production, for roads, etc.). and expenditures and consumption habits.
3. Local perception of the project objectives and methods should be
described. with special attention to the ethnic differences in response to
innovations. as associated with traditional land-use and land-ownership systems.
current access to land, participation in the wage labour market, and so on.
4 Inter-ethnic relations in the project area should be noted, and an attempt
should be made to describe the effects of the project on the culture of the
groups involved. especially as regards family system, village leadership and
social control. religion, creation of a split between generations. amongst other
5 Social and economic effects of road building in the area should be examined
in terms of increased contacts between highlanders and with outsiders (including
project personnel, official and unofficial tourists). Effects of the exposure of
villagers to display of different standards of material well-being should be
noted. The distribution of the increased values associated with the project
(e.g.. in land and saleable commodities) should be noted as regards benefits
received by project area residents versus outsiders.
6. Implications of this project and other types of agroforestry development
for ownership and traditional patterns of access to. use of. and management of
land should be studied.
7. Using available series of air photographs and interviews, the history of
settlement patterns, population size. and land use should be described for the
project area. This should go back as far as the 1954 55 air photographs will
allow. Attention should be paid to amounts of land cleared. and patterns of
Research outside the project area should be conducted to increase the
generalizability and applicability of the project results, so as to allow
planning under the widely varying characteristics of people and environment in
the highlands. Such research is also needed to assess social. economic, and
demographic changes and trends independent of the effects of the project.
1. Of particular importance is a study of marketing and trading patterns
within the highlands, and those involving highland-lowland interactions, and the
role of different transportation methods in these.
2. A marketing survey should be made of the potential demand for highland
crops. and the effects on prices of increasing the supplies of these crops.
3. A map should be prepared showing the current location and type of roads in
the highlands, and studies of the effects of roads on marketing, production. and
changing patterns of land values should be made in sample areas.
4. Systematic studies of sample areas should be made to assess population
size; age structure; birth and death rate; the volume, direction. and
circumstances of migration of highlanders, including their participation in the
lowland labour market: the economic conditions of migrants before and after the
moves; population pressure: and access to land in the highlands. This
information is essential for predicting the growth and distribution of highland
5. An inventory should be made of wage work opportunities in the highlands,
along with a study of labour recruiting networks. Participation of various
ethnic groups in wage work should be noted.
6. Maps showing the distribution of highland socioeconomic systems should be
drawn to show their relevance for economic development. Data to be mapped should
include subsistence shortage and surplus areas, zones of rapid population
growth, labour supplies and employment opportunities. and types of land tenure.
Baseline data should be assembled to allow the setting of targets for key
socioeconomic indicators (e.g., adequacy of food supply, village water supplies,
health facilities, educational levels. child death rates). and these data
combined with the map of socio-economic systems should be used as the basis for
selecting areas of highest urgency and greatest opportunity for development of
7. A survey of the career patterns of highlander highschool graduates should
be made as a guide to modification of curriculum and job placement programmes,
especially as related to highland village development plans.
Documentation, Training, and Personnel
Some of the data required for these tasks already exist, for example in the
files of the Tribal Research Centre and the Social Science Research Centre at
Chiang Mai University. Valuable information on research already done in the
highlands is present in the files of the National Research Council and should be
collated in the form of a guide to personnel and research results.
Work on the project may be done by Chiang Mai University research units,
including those in the faculties of Agriculture, Business Administration,
Medicine, and Social Sciences, and by the Tribal Research Centre. Because some
of these units may already be over-committed to research tasks, it may be
appropriate to release some young Chiang Mai University faculty members from
teaching and assign them full time to various portions of the project for one or
two semesters. Data processing facilities and research library holdings will
have to be strengthened in order to complete some of these tasks (e.g., through
addition of storage capacity to the Social Science Research Centre computer to
facilitate rapid processing of large surveys).
Funding required for the research tasks outlined above is far beyond the
scope of the UN University-Chiang Mai University agreement. Costs will include
salaries of the researchers and supplementary staff and consultants. Iocal
travel and per diem while engaged in the field research, data processing,
secretarial assistance, and supplies.
TABLE 1. Proposed Proiect Schedule
|Task ||Year 1 ||Year 2 ||Year
3 ||Year 4 |
|Project specification ||--------- || || ||
|Team formation ||----------------- || || ||
|Preparation of proposals ||----------------- || || || |
|Commitment of funds ||
||------ || || |
|Field work* || ||----------------- || ||
|Data processing ||--- ||----------------- || ||
|Data analysis and writeup || ||
||------------- || |
results with rest of project ||---------
||-------- ||--------------- ||------------
*Timing of field-work will depend on seasonal access to data
Requests for financial assistance for the subprojects, cc ordinated by the
project directorate ale should be addressed to the appropriate national,
bilateral and international agencies National agencies might include the
Department of Public Welfare which has administrative responsibilities in
highland areas; the National Statistical Office, which has responsibility for
conducting national population and agricultural censuses. Other agencies might
include Agency for International Development, IDE C, Ford Foundation, Population
Council, US Department of Agriculture US and UN narcotics agencies, Unesco. and
The proposed schedule is diagrammed in Table