Posted September 2000
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 is one of the few countries in South East Asia that developed and applied legislation towards the welfare and rehabilitation of people with disabilities. It has an estimated 1.1 million people or 1.8 percent of the population that are disabled with the majority (409,000) located in the Northeast, the poorest part of country. Already in the Fifth and Sixth National Development Plans, dating back to early 1990's, special measures were taken to rehabilitate disabled people and help them become economically self-reliant. The Department of Public Welfare has several programs for capacitating people with disabilities. Incentives are offered to companies who accept to train and employ people with disabilities while interest-free loans are available for people with disabilities who wish to start their own business. Existing training centers are not readily accessible for people with disabilities; most being located in large cities particularly Bangkok. To separate people with disabilities from their family and community is neither economically nor emotionally productive. People with disabilities should be allowed to remain within their community and become active members of society. Not only does income generation help support the family but it also brings back self-esteem and self-confidence while alleviating the burden of disability from both family and society. More programs need to be set-up in rural areas offering conventional training in agro-industry and farming related sectors.
The Royal Family plays an essential role in supporting various projects around Thailand, always expressing deep concern for disadvantaged people. Since the Asian economic crisis, His Majesty the King has been promoting "Economic Self Reliance" for the country and its people. Disabled people also need to become economically self-reliant in order to regain self-confidence and re-integrate into society as full participants. It is opportune that Thailand be the venue for establishing such a project in this auspicious year of the sixth cycle of His Majesty the King.
FAO is constantly developing new approaches and strategies towards poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Several divisions are collaborating to support the poorest of the poor, disabled people in rural areas. Through its focal point Mr. Lawrence W. Jacobson, FAO decided to initiate a project for people with disabilities. A meeting was arranged between Mr. Jacobson and Senator Narong Patibatsarakich who had similar objectives. They soon realized that FAO could assist Thailand in an agriculture-related program for people with disabilities. A program in commercial horticulture aiming at income generation for people with disabilities in rural areas was therefore developed by FAO; to train people with disabilities in mushroom cultivation. Following the approval of FAO Director General Mr. Jacques Diouf, project implementation started in February 1999.