The Trial of “Merits”: Creative Practices of an Agriculture NGO in Central Thailand
推行與認同這套替代性農耕理念的人們，視這樣的農耕實踐是種「做功德（ทําบุญ tham bun）」，藉此鼓勵與肯認這樣的耕作型態，賦予其在文化中的道德倫理價值。本論文認為，要理解這套發生在當代的現象，功德概念提供我們很好的切入點，它提供泰國人理解自身所處的位置，以及轉換的可能，更是人與人、人與自然間關係的隱喻。就此而言，功德的內涵並非固定的，它會隨著當代的脈絡而有所轉變，同時亦反映出人們面對當代問題時的焦慮與解決之道。
This study focuses on a non-government organization in center Thailand that conducts alternative agriculture and the group of farmers it cooperates with. The research tends to indicate an alternative path other than conventional farming which reflect the defects caused by Green Revolution. It is not organic farming, but a way to cost–down agriculture expenses, to befriend with the environment and the people, and to build a system of knowledge through practical conducts and experiment. In addition, this way of farming combines beliefs of Mae Posop (mother of rice), which commonly exists in Thai- society in order to draw people to give up conventional farming, and turn to respect the force of nature. Various power interact and affect each other endlessly in the making of the belief, revealing the energetic side of religion in contemporary Thailand.
The people who believe in this alternative agriculture and put the idea into action see this process as tham bun, so as to encourage and acknowledge this type of farming, and further assign cultural and moral values into it. This study considers that the notion of tham bun is a key point to understand the phenomenon happening in contemporary Thailand. It provides a way for Thai people to realize their position in life, the possibility to shift this position, and the connotation between men and nature. The notion of tham bun is not fixed. It changes throughout the context, and reflects the anxiety when facing contemporary problems and the solution being made afterwards.
However, the research would also like to point out that this idea is not a statement of Idealism. It is based on both a realistic rational attempt and a longtime knowlwdge building process. It also has to honestly deal with daily problems of the lives of the people. In face of the main stream of conventional farming and fast developing organic farming, it is unique to not comply with any kind of system. Nevertheless, these participants hold an open mind, stand in a flexible position, and continue to help the farmers to sustain a variable picture of the agriculture development.
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