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close this bookConservation and Development in Northern Thailand. Proceedings of a Programmatic Workshop on Agro-forestry and Highland-Lowland Interactive Systems, Held at Chiang Mai, Thailand, 13-17 November 1978 (UNU, 1980, 114 pages)
close this folderSubcommittee reports, plenary discussion, and recommendations
View the documentReport by the subcommittee on documentation, training, and personnel
View the documentReport by the subcommittee on mapping and cover-type data requirements
View the documentReport by the subcommittee on climate, soil. and soil erosion data requirements
View the documentReport by the subcommittee on socio-cultural, demographic, and economic aspects
View the documentPlenary session
View the documentRecommendations

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 income.

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 topics

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 vegetational succession.

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 population.

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 various sorts.

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     -------------  
Integration of 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 UNDP


The proposed schedule is diagrammed in Table 1.