Farmers losing battle with developers
PHUKET: The countryside in Srisoonthorn is becoming a battleground between traditional and modern, farmers and developers – and the farmers worry that the old ways, and their livelihood, may be pushed into extinction.
Wednesday 15 August 2012, 10:20AM
Under pressure from the power of developers, some farmers have sold their land to the developers, while others simply quit. Last year the owner of a chicken farm in Sri Soonthorn reportedly quit her business because of pressure from new residents who complained about the stink from her farm.
The issue flared up on Tuesday (August 14) when staff of another housing project in Srisoonthorn lodged a complaint with the authorities about the smell from a farm close by.
Thaweepan Farm raises pigs and chickens using factory farming techniques to produce as much as 20 per cent of the pork and 20 per cent of the eggs sold in Phuket markets for more than 30 years.
Sanya Siripongrungroj, who has been in Phuket his whole life and works in the Thalang District Office, said he remembers farms being in the Srisoonthorn area since he was a child. “It’s an old way of life for local people.
“I’ve seen development sweeping animal farms off the countryside in Phuket. It seems unfair to me that it’s only the farmers who have to adapt themselves [to development expansion].
Most of animal farms, including Thaweepan Farm, are within their rights to be where they are, in green zones, which have been demarcated for agriculture since the first Phuket land use maps was produced, and are still in green zones in the latest versions of the maps.
But land use regulations also allow development of single houses in green zones, which brings conflict between developers and animal farm owners because of the smell, waste and unsightliness of many farms.
The developers complain that messy farms affect their sales, while home owners are, of course, far from pleased when their bright new homes are invaded by the overpowered scent of pigs or chickens.
But, says Jumpon Rukarangsi, a worker at the Thaweepan farm, “When people think about Phuket, they see only tourism. But they don’t seem to grasp that tourists also need to eat.”
After receiving multiple complaints about the farm, Mr Jumpon said that the farm has altered its management system in an attempt to adapt the old way of life to the demands of booming development.
“But,” he added stoutly, “you can’t kick farmers out of [green zone] farming land.”