The rice was unloaded at the X-Terminal building at Phuket International Airport this afternoon, with Royal Thai Air Force Civil Affairs Director Air Marshall Trephon Ongphithoon present for the occasion.
Joining AM Trephon were Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana, Phang Nga Vice Governor Chotnarin Kertsom and a host of other officers.
AM Trephon explained that RTAF Chief ACM Eakmanat Wongwat was asked by the Chumchonthai Foundation (“Thai Community Foundation”) to transport local products between areas so that communities can continue to make a living during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Phakaphong said the project was created after the Rawai sea gypsy chief explained to the Chumchonthai Foundation that sea gypsies were still able to go fishing, but did not have any place to sell their fish.
“Sea gypsies in Andaman coast provinces united under the ‘Andaman Sea Gypsy Network’ and produced about a tonne of sun-dried fish in order to exchange for rice.
“The Northeast Farmers Network and Yasothon Association heard about the problems the sea gypsies were having and organised to provide nine tonnes of rice in exchange for dried fish,” he explained.
“This is a good idea to motivate the cultural economy by exchanging local goods between two areas under ‘P2P’, people to people and product to product [sic]. This creative system helps us to survive during this crisis and educates people about living in different areas,” Governor Phakaphong said.
“This could be a role model for other provinces to help them through other times of crisis,” he added.
“I want to thank every officer and organisation for responding so well and facilitating this project.” Governor Phakaphong concluded.
V/Gov Chotnarin said that people in Phang Nga sent 500 kilogrammes of dried fish to exchange for two tonnes of rice from Yasothon, which will be passed on to help people living on Surin island and in Baan Nam Khem.
“We also sent 3.2 tonnes of pineapple to Ubon Ratchathani and Bangkok,” V/Gov Chotnarin added.