Peruvians visit Thailand: Reaching sustainable rural development by creating ownership



The drug agency DEVIDA and experts from Peru's Foreign Ministry visited the Doi Tung Development Project in Thailand for a training on alternative development. The project creates alternative sources of income for small farmers who cultivated opium poppy in the past.

From September 16th to 23rd 2018, twelve representatives of the Peruvian National Drug Agency DEVIDA (National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs) and the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs participated in a training on Alternative Development (AD) in Thailand. It took place in the Doi Tung Development Project, which is located in the administrative district of Chiang Rai, a former opium poppy cultivation region. It was organised jointly by the Thai Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage (MFLF) and GPDPD.

The Doi Tung project created alternative employment opportunities for small farmers and their families, who had been looking for a livelihood by opium poppy cultivation. It thus contributes to the sustainable development of the region. Thereby it is crucial to involve local smallholders in the planning and implementation of AD programmes. The participation of the people from the area strengthens their sense of community and fosters the ownership for the development process.

The Peruvian government is already implementing a comprehensive AD programme. In contrast to Thailand however, this includes the eradication of drug crops without prior development of alternative sources of income.

Above all, the success factors of sustainable AD programmes were discussed during the visit. The development of infrastructure in remote regions and thus the connection to potential markets is just as important as the development of the government’s understanding for the population and its realities.

Another focus of the study trip was on environmental aspects. Since the start of the Development Project in Doi Tung in 1988, the area has been sustainably reforested. The Peruvian delegation was highly interested in the agroforestry measures of the area - which combine natural forest with agricultural crops.

The feasibility to transfer aspects of the Thai model to Peru was evaluated positively amongst the experts. In a manageable terrain with connection possibilities to infrastructure networks and a stable security situation, the conditions for a sustainable AD project in Peru would be good.

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