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What a Satellite Does to Ban Paa Phai, a Northern Thailand's Agrarian Community?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Potapohn, Manoj; Buranaviriyakul, Sunthorn; Jintrawet, Attachai
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/425
Sector: Agriculture
New Commons
Information & Knowledge
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
information technology
digital divide
Abstract: "Kru Somsak was so excited about a satellite dish installed at his school and the prospect that his primary school students can get into cyberspace via broadband connection. He however noticed that the corporate- donated system failed to function properly so he kept bucking Chiang Mai University's researchers, who he happened to come into contact, to visit his school and lend a helping hand. The fixing failed. The satellite was still circulating in the orbit and only a month afterwards, according to a local newspaper, the test run had been complete and the system was in operating conditions. "Kru Somsak was obviously ahead of time and his enthusiasm had not been caught up by the rest of Ban Paa Phai's residents. As they are trying to hold their community oriented livelihood together while coping with reality of the market, they may be on the verge of finding a solution in information and communications technology (ICT). But research suggests excitement with ICT may be short-lived as social process to accompany the technological change has to be locally initiated. This paper is a preliminary report on initial conditions at Ban Paa Phai, including production activities, structure and current flow of information, within and across the spatial community boundary. This would be a basis for subsequent projection of real welfare improvement that is facilitated by the use of ICT. "Ban Pa Phai is within reach of university researchers and has for almost a decade been a demonstration site for food security oriented production activities. This was initiated to cope with closure of a forest reserve nearby. Construction of a paved road in the 1980s exposed the villagers to vagary of the market forces, experiencing the boom in garlic prices in the 1980s, over consumption and financial collapse with bust of garlic prices after the trade liberalization with China. Coping mechanisms include a switch out of chemical fertilizer and pesticides and non farm cash activities (from for example processed food, home-made textile etc.) as well as off farm employment. Experience from encountering with researchers and university students led to villagers conducting a research of their own and this is the process that facilitates the adjustment. It started from community building via revival of local culture and tradition building group's identity. It subsequently has been oriented towards finding a solution to the villagers' debt accumulation and potentially can be directed towards reorganization of production activities. All the non farm production, off farm employment and production of organic crops are information intensive activities."

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