Natthapat Siriwarangkun, sales agronomist for DuPont Pioneer Thailand, saw a need to increase the local hill tribes’ awareness of agriculture productivity and an opportunity to improve their livelihoods. Of Hmong ethnic background, Natthapat was able to break down cultural and language barriers and introduce Pioneer® brand corn hybrid 30B80 successfully in villages of the Hmong, Yao and Akha tribes, as well as impart agronomic practices that would help the hill tribe villagers achieve a more sustainable farming system.
Thailand is a country of many distinct ethnic groups, which includes various hill tribes living in the mountainous north of the country. Traditionally, they practice subsistence farming in northern forested areas in which the focus is on growing just enough food to feed themselves and their families.
“Things like the proper spacing, timing of applying agricultural input such as fertilizer and soil management were unfamiliar to them [hill tribes] as it was their custom to leave homes to search for new arable land once the land they were cultivating was depleted of its natural resources,” said Natthapat.
Following the end of the first season of planting Pioneer® brand corn hybrid 30B80, the farmers were able to enjoy a yield increase that helped to not only ensure their self-sufficiency in food, but also to gain additional income. Furthermore, the enhanced farming know-how meant that the tribal villagers would not have to clear out more forested areas in the future for their farming practices.
Natthapat also has built a strong relationship with the farmers of the hill tribes who come to him for agronomic advice.
“To be told by the youth in my village that I’ve inspired them to have an education and career in agriculture is very rewarding to me personally,” he said.