02 May 2012

After the Wetlands

            During Unit Four we touched upon a topic that is so very familiar to all of us, The Green Market. Although this topic has been touched upon a lot in regards to Unit 1 on Agriculture this time it’s more about a movement that will help a community of people regain a livelihood that was lost by the ever controversial dam.
             In our exchange with Rasi Sali village there was one quote that stuck out to me specifically. “ The wetlands was like a supermarket for us.” Imagine having all the Shaws, or any grocery shop that you visit the most, just completely wiped away from your local area. Where would you turn to your food to put on the table? How would you decide where now is the best place to go to buy the things you were so used to seeing in one place? That is like what the wetlands were for the villagers in Rasi Sali. All of their main sources of food and natural resources could be found in those areas thast they knew so well until the dam came.
            Currently, the majority of villagers practice conventional agriculture. Pesticides and fertilizers are very accessible and are unfortunately now ingrained in farming practice, as food that naturally grows from the wetlands is now no longer available. P’Banya, a local NGO leader, is pushing with other villagers to implement a Green Market in the community. According to a recent survey conducted by CIEE students in Fall 2011, 94% of producers are interested in learning how to make organic compost or fertilizer and 100% are interested in selling at a green market. This interest is allowing for the community to come together and create the “supermarket” that they had lost to the dam. It is allowing for everyone participate like they used to in their wetlands and then make an income out of it as well.
            This hope for the Green Market is allowing individuals from the community also practice organic agriculture, which is a plus. While not everyone is completely organic yet they are in the process of using their Learning Center as a place for this type of organic, in both meanings of the word, education. Also as CIEE students we are coming together to help the process of having Rasi Sali have a Green Market. We will be able to contribute during our Final Project time. While visiting both on Unit Four and during our Collaborative Commuity Consultation we were able to speak to key players like P’Banya and Mae Si who told us about what the people of the village wanted in regards to consulting other producers, in Yasothon, about their Green Markets and the products they create for them. Also being able to talk to the consumers who would be the future people that would really make this Green Market really work. The specifics for this process can be illustrated by the following.
            The community needs to decide on a place to hold the Green Market, which can be done by surveying community members. Right now they are deciding between having it at the adult school near Rasi Salai or in nearby Bueng Boon District. Organizers would then need to get the necessary permits. The community must also determine how the producers and consumers will get to the market, and what materials would be needed for the Green Market to function successfully and sustainably. Finally, the Green Market should be advertised in such a way that it attracts both producers and consumers. The community must figure out how they can utilize the media to get the information out and make the market a success. Once the logistics of the Green Market are concretely decided, and the community and other parties are on the same page, the Green Market can move towards official establishment. Being able to bring the Green Market into the village of Rasi Sali will and would allow for them  

Brenna Kelly
Providence College

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