Posted September 2000
|"We the trainees now have hope and see light for a better future, and with the helping hand of FAO through the joint project with the Department of Public Welfare we will be carried over the difficulties and obstacles placed by a non-understanding society."
- Oradee Silichai, trainee, age 20
Annex 1: Layout of mushroom cultivation center
Annex 2: Buildings and equipment
Annex 3: Main steps in mushroom cultivation
Annex 4: Contributors to the project's success
Thailand offers enabling policies for people with disabilities, and the Royal Family has always actively supported government projects involving disadvantaged people. FAO decided to join the Thai government in a commitment to improve the livelihoods of rural disabled in a step towards poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
The FAO-initiated project Mushroom Production Training for Disabled People is located in the Northeastern Training Center for People with Disabilities in Ubon Ratchathani. Mushrooms were favored because they offer good market opportunities, as they are part of the daily Thai diet. Furthermore, they can be cultivated by physically and mentally disabled people and can be started at a very low cost while generating income within a short term.
One of the main objectives of the project was to establish economic self-reliance for rural disabled as entrepreneurs. FAO assisted in strengthening capacity of the local institution for training rural disabled. The purpose of the training was to prepare people with disabilities for equal participation in social and economic development at family and community level. Training further offered the opportunity for disabled people to prove their ability. It is easy to see someone's disability but much more difficult to see their capability.
Specific selection and training methodology were developed to answer specific needs and to ensure replication and sustainability following training. Alternative ways of accomplishing certain tasks needed to be development to cater to specific disabilities. Motivational sessions as part of the training, highly contributed to personal development.
Every step involved in mushroom cultivation was reviewed during training including entrepreneurship and environmental protection. Forty-seven trainees successfully completed the 60 days training. Trainees, upon completing their training, went home and transferred acquired know-how to their family and community. All trainees have already set-up their mushroom houses, and are now ensured of daily food and income. They have gained self-reliance and self-sufficiency to become active participants in their community. Five trainees returned to the center to become trainers and assist the five trainers who work under the Department of Public Welfare. Trainers acquired new skills for enhancing capacities of rural disabled as entrepreneurs. Appropriate construction designs were introduced for trainees to set-up their mushroom enterprise, using readily available materials thus lowering set-up costs substantially. As a demonstration of self-confidence, six disabled trainees married and established their joint enterprise.
This project's success can be attributed to the commitment of the Thai government, FAO, consultants and project team members. The Department of Public Welfare already indicated the intent to replicate this training program at its Center in Nong Khai. FAO is preparing monitoring and evaluation tools along with training manuals to ensure feasibility, sustainability, and successful replication in future local and regional projects.