Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Self Sufficiency in Thailand

Living in Thailand and being self-sufficient go hand in hand. In many ways it’s part of the culture here.

While the rest of the world has been introducing draconian laws to make it illegal to collect rainwater, drink fresh milk or live off the grid, in Thailand they promote the late King’s Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy.

Lemons - Self-Sufficient

His Majesty has been promoting self-reliant or sustainable farming since the 1950s, but it wasn’t until his speeches in the ‘70’s that the Sufficiency Economy was widely accepted.

“Economic development must be done step by step. It should begin with the strengthening of our economic foundation, by assuring that the majority of our population has enough to live on… Once reasonable progress has been achieved, we should then embark on the next steps, by pursuing more advanced levels of economic development.”

“Being a tiger is not important. The important thing is for us to have a sufficient economy. A sufficient economy means to have enough to support ourselves…we have to take a careful step backward…each village or district must be relative self-sufficient.” His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej

In line with the Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy, His Majesty introduced an approach to manage farmland. Efficient water management was also developed to ensure year-around farming.

The first phase (of three) was to divide farmland to produce the optimum benefits.

The land is divided into four parts with a ratio of 30:30:30:10.

Water Management & Swales


The 1st division is designated for a fresh water pond to store rainwater during the wet season. During the dry season the water is metered out to grow crops and raise aquatic animals and plants.

The second 30% is set aside to grow rice during the rainy season for the family’s daily consumption throughout the year. This helps to cut down on expenses and allow the farmers to be self-reliant.

The third 30% is used for growing fruit, vegetables, field crops and herbs for daily consumption. Any surplus is set aside to be sold.

The last 10% is set aside for a dwelling, animal husbandry, roads and other structures.

Free range eggs for self-sufficiency

The One-Straw Revolution

Meanwhile not to far away in Japan, a farmer, philosopher and the author of The One-Straw Revolution, Masanobu Fukuoka was also influencing and inspiring people beyond farming with sustainable living lifestyles.

Fukuoka saw natural farming not just as a means of producing pesticide free food in abundance but also as an aesthetic and spiritual approach to life.

His five principles of natural farming also referred to as ‘do nothing farming’ and a ‘the natural way of farming’ taken from Fukuoka’s books are that:

  • human cultivation of soil, plowing or tilling (by hand or machine) are unnecessary
  • prepared fertilizers and composts are unnecessary
  • weeding by cultivation or by herbicides is unnecessary. Instead only minimal weed suppression with minimal disturbance should be used
  • applications of pesticides or herbicides are unnecessary
  • pruning of fruit trees is unnecessary


Pine Cone

The Good Life

Still In the 1970’s but now in the West, those seeking to get back to nature and ‘the good life’ were discovering Permaculture as a way of living harmoniously with the land thanks to the publication of ‘Permaculture One’ by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.

The book first published in 1978 introduced the permanent agriculture (permaculture) design system to the general public.

I mention these three systems of self-sufficiency because we have drawn from them all to slowly get to a point living our own self-sufficient lifestyle. The Thinglish Lifestyle if you will! We are not quite there yet, but we are getting closer every day.

Papaya Seeds

What Does Self-sufficient Mean?

For me, being self-sufficient is more than farming the land in beneficial ways for maximum yields, with minimum labor and impact on the environment…


Being an entrepreneur is not about taking free stuff, it’s about identifying problems and coming up with solutions that enable you to give back. I have an inherent entrepreneurial spirit and have never asked for handouts or government help. In fact I don’t trust any governments or their masters. We’d all be better of without them. Having an entrepreneurial mindset will see you well on the road to self-sufficiency

Food Safety

I want to control my own food supply, which in itself is probably one of the most radical actions you can take today. Governments are continually exerting more control over the food supply chains and what we can put in our own bodies. Call me old fashioned but I don’t want a side order of GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides and other carcinogenic poisons on my menu.

Fresh Food

I want fresh food, full of mouth-watering flavors and micro-nutrients. Even organic food you buy in a store is often flown in from a far off country. The food maybe pesticide free but it’s been picked early and lost all its important nutrients and flavors by the time we get to eat it. I want food that has traveled less than 1000 meters and is consumed within an hour of harvesting.

Living Debt Free

Probably the highest priority for anyone living in this day and age is to become debt free. Debt is modern slavery. We own our own house (no mortgage) and invested in land and seeds to grow our own food and raise livestock.


I have a successful company and other investments that give me a certain amount of freedom unattainable to over 95% of the population who trade their time for dollars, working jobs they hate to pay for the mortgage (death pledge in French) on the house they only sleep in.

So being self-sufficient is more of a journey than a destination. So enjoy the ride and stop frequently to smell the flowers.

Share you stories of becoming self-sufficient in the comment section below.

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Self Sufficiency in Thailand

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