By FRANK SHORT
I WAS delighted to read in today’s edition of the Solomon Star that the Director General of the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) Suphatra Srimaitreehithak had met with the Supervising Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade William Soaki on Tuesday.
Here is a quote from the article:
“The Director General was also accompanied by four senior officials from the Government of Thailand.
“This was the first meeting to be held between the TICA Head with SIG Officials.
“The purpose of the visit was in response to the proposal made under the Thailand-Pacific Islands Forum (TPIF) for a ONE COUNTRY-ONE PROJECT.
“This is an initiative that aims to boost sustainable development and food security through the agricultural sector.
“Speaking during the meeting, the Director General explained that this initiative aims to accelerate economic and rural development through the community level.
“She said it will also bring about the concept of sustainability and economic growth to the rural communities and to enable them with the knowledge to be self sufficient and take ownership in their rural development approach.
“In response, Supervising Permanent Secretary Mr. Soaki thanked TICA for accepting the request by Solomon Islands to roll-out this One Country-One Project initiative in the country.
“MFAET together with the Ministry of Agriculture will work collaboratively with TICA to ensure that this model of rural development is forthcoming with success,” he said.”
In a letter that was published in the Solomon Times on Line publication in January 2011, and subsequently re-published on several occasions since that time, I wrote:
“In Thailand, from where I am writing, one of the most successful legacies of a former Prime Minister is what is called the OTOP scheme. This stands for "One Village, or group of villages, One Product." The idea is to encourage rural people to produce quality products unique to their region. The Thai government helps by marketing the products, both internally and overseas.
“The OTOP products cover a large array of local goods, including handicrafts, cotton and silk garments, pottery, household items, carvings, wooden bowls and food, to name but a few. The scheme has not only created many jobs locally but also provided many young people with a means of earning a living.
“The origin of the One Village One Product movement actually originated in Oita Prefecture in Japan. The purpose was to improve upon and refine locally available resources and to create jobs and income for the communities, to able the respective communities to become self-dependent, to preserve traditional culture and craftsmanship, to promote human resource development, and to develop creativity in developing products in harmony with local culture and way of life.”
Japan's External Trade Organisation (JETRO) is helping to promote Thailand's growing and successful "OTOP" products in Japan.
In more recent times, last October, I published the following letter on Linkedin
“THAILAND HAS MUCH TO OFFER THE SOLOMON ISLANDS ON SUCCESSFUL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
“As the Solomon Islands still seeks to grow its economy and provide a meaningful sustainable development policy to accommodate its growing population and at a time of increasing local concern over the effects of climate change, I would recommend the Solomon Islands Government to examine Thailand’s success story on sustainable development.
“First some facts.
“Thailand sits in the centre of Southeast Asia. It has a total area of 513,000 km (198,000 sg mi); a population of 69 million and the unitary state is subdivided into 76 provinces.
“The country is a constitutional monarchy.
“Soon after the late and much loved King Bhumibol took the throne in 1946, His Majesty toured the whole country and became acutely aware of the many hardships then facing the rural people, particularly the poor farmers. At that time the, per capita GDP was about US$200.
“The King took a keen interest in rural development, devoted his whole life to helping the rural impoverished and instituted many royal projects which led to the sufficiency economy philosophy policy now pursued with growing success by the Thai Government.
“The sustainable economy approach has been introduced and adopted in more than 23,000 villages across Thailand, raising prosperity and economic standards to higher levels by stages.
“Thailand’s sufficiency economy concept as sustainability at its very core and is now seen as an important contributor to the UN's international development goals.
“The Thai governmental organisation most responsible for implementing the sufficiency economy is the National Economic and Social Development Board
“The ECSDB's primary tool for mobilising action is the excellent, graphically illustrated publication of the National Economic and Development Plan. A copy can be accessed by using your browser to search -
Over the years I have lived in Thailand, I have observed, first hand, the progress the country has made in its sufficiency and one product-one- project developments for the benefit of the rural people and why I felt so strongly in advocating similar help from the Government of Thailand for the people in the Solomon Islands.
I am really pleased that the Royal Government of Thailand has offered its help and expertise as demonstrated by the visit to Honiara by the Deputy Director General of the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA).