In 1965, Thai-German Technical Cooperation started to support Thailand’s plans for rural development and agriculture-based economic growth.

  • At first, it fo¬cused on the improvement of agricultural production & infrastructure as well as the promotion of land-settlement communities.
  • Later, an integrated rural development approach was introduced, with involvement of multiple partners and disciplines.
  • Today, the cooperation shifted towards sustainable production and con¬sumption. It is also a focal theme for trilatera and regional cooperation.

In the 1960s Thailand economy based on agriculture, especially crops production and livestock. TGTC started to support agricultural activities, mainly to diversify and improve the production. The goal was to improve income and living conditions for the rural poor together with economic development.

The first milestone was the Thai-German Livestock and Farming Project Chiang Mai (1965-1977). It improved dairy and meat production. The project later established Chiang Mai Dairy Cooperative. Today the cooperative still usese “smiling cow” logo, adapted from the project logo, on their dairy products.

Several promotions of land settlement communities were conduct in late 1960s to 1970s. Thai-German Agricultural Development Project Saraburi (1967-1975) improved and stablised income sources of settlers through introduction of new farming methods, livestock husbandry. New crops and marketing organization together with improvement of local infrastructure. The project set a model settlement development in Lamtakong (1972-1976) and Pimai (1974-1977)

To ensure efficiency and sustainable result, integrated rural development was introduced in the early 1980s. The Thai-German Highland Development Programme (1981-1998) or TG-HDP reduced opium poppy cultivation and improved living condition of the hill tribe population in northern Thailand. There were more than 20 implementing agencies, with the Office of the Narcotics Control Boards as the main project partner.

Regarding plant protection, activities of TGTC commenced with the Thai-German Rodent Control Project(1975-1980) and continued – with the broader scope of general plant protection – within the framework of the Thai-German Plant Protection Programme. Residues in food and a high pressure on the eco-system had been pressing issues in Thailand, since until that time all existing pesticides could be traded and used without restriction leading to large-scale preventive spraying and adverse effects on human lives and the environment. A multi-sectoral approach, including research activities and studies, capacity development and the promotion of Plant Protection Service Units on province-level was launched to address those problems. In a similar manner the introduction of plant protection measures in Thai fruit cultivation promoted by the project Integrated Pest Management in Selected Fruit Trees contributed to a reduction of environmental pollution, an improvement of workers’ health, consumer protection and the export promotion of selected fruit. On the national level the project on Appropriate Regulatory Measures and Policy Reform for Pesticide Risk Reduction implemented in the 1990s developed a Master Plan on pesticide policy, which was adopted by the Thai cabinet in April 2002 promising a reduction of the use of highly toxic pesticides. Therewith pesticide import, formulation and registration in Thailand were brought up to international standards.

Issues of animal health and animal husbandry were addressed by the Thai-German Animal Health Project(1978-1992) and Thai-German Animal Nutrition Project (1981-1991). While the first project succeeded in establishing, equipping and developing the Northeast Regional Veterinary Research and Diagnostic Centre (NERVRDC) inThaPhra, KhonKaen Province, and in setting-up a Basic Animal Health Service in seven Northeasternprovinces, the latter supported the research activities of a laboratory for the analysis of agro-by-products at Chiang Mai University. Thereby, the environmentally sound “recycling” of agro-by-products, e.g. residues from maize (baby corn) and pineapples for the feeding of animals, which formerly were discharged in rivers and dumps, could be initiated by the project.

Looking back at the history of Thai-German technical cooperation in the field of agriculture, food production and rural development a certain trend can be identified: While the first projects primarily aimed at the increase and diversification of Thai food production for nutritional purposes, ecological and research components featured more prominently with projects in subsequent decades. Integrated rural development projects came to include an institutional development component aiming at strengthening of respective partner institutions.

Engagement in the field of rural development, however, not always meant concentration on agricultural activities: TheIntegrated Community Based Rural Development ProjectChakkarat(1984-2000) put its emphasis on opening up non-agricultural income opportunities by attractingdifferent manufacturing enterprises to the district and creating thusoff-farm employment, especially for young women. Finally, the Micro-Finance Linkage Project (1992-2004) geared towards expanding the range of financial services offered by the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) and supported the development of saving products with a particular focus on the poorer strata of the rural Thai population. Today, the Thai-German Programme for Enterprise Competitiveness (2003-2011) is effectively supporting Thai agro-industrial enterprises, among others in the shrimps, fruit & vegetable and tapioca business.

Before 1974, there was no “Chiang Mai Dairy Cooperatives,” only “Chiang Mai Cattle Farmer Group” with around 50-60 members. The Thai-German Dairy Project advised us on forming Chaing Mai Dairy Cooperative, and finally we got registered. Then we thought of a logo for our products. The project allowed us to use the project logo which has “smiling cow” symbol. At the beginning, the Ayutthaya Dairy Cooperative under Thai-German project support also used the same logo. Later their cooperative was dissolve, so we are the only co-op using this “smiling cow” logo until today.

- Mr. Yongyuth Wongsa Farmer and Dairy Cooperative Inspector

We came to realize it only after we had learned our lessons. We thought that setting many agencies to work and plan together was already ‘integration.’ But we did not actually integrate. What is integration and how can one achieve it? That was a big challenge. If we had not nally applied an area-based approach, it would have never worked because we would have continued to look at the problem from each agency’s viewpoint and not from the villagers’ interest, and we would have continued to work only toward each organisation’s specic goals ...

- Mr. Naret Songkrawsook, Thai-German Highland Development Programme, former project officer of the Narcotics Control Board.
Did you know?... It was the German Federal President Heinrich Luebke during an official state visit to Northern Thailand (in 1965, “Thais are so small”?), who proposed support in setting up the Thai-German Dairy Farm in Chiang Mai. This dairy farm, which received German Government assistance until 1977, laid the foundation for wide-ranging Thai-German cooperation in the fields of agriculture and livestock, including veterinary science and rural development in general

I think what’s the most pleasant to work with Thai people is there’s no aggression, people are pleasant to work with. I think to push Thai people to the situation they become angry, it’s not that easy. So I think if you treat them nicely, you will have a very positive response……Thai people I think they have confident in themselves, they know for good reason why they also have their own knowledge, which is very important in any kind of develop project.

- Mr. Hagen Dirksen, former GTZ Tea Leader of the Thai-German Highland Development Programme.