Plant With Purpose – Northern Thailand

By | October 25, 2013

What’s our purpose?
It’s a question we all regularly ask ourselves when we see people suffering. As human beings, we want to help out – BUT HOW?.

For Plant With Purpose ,the breakthrough came when they saw first-hand the connection between poverty and the environment. People think of poverty and the environment as separate issues, but in fact they are hugely interdependent.

Most of the world’s poor are rural poor. Many are subsistence farmers, completely dependent on their environment for survival. But as a result of widespread deforestation, the land isn’t providing like it used to.

Plant With Purpose - Northern Thailand

Land that once bore bountiful crops that could be sold or eaten, isn’t producing. Streams that used to provide water to drink, now run dry. Out of desperation, the poor cut down more trees to sell as firewood, even though doing so means further destroying their one chance of survival.

By reversing deforestation, Plant With Purpose helps the poor restore productivity to their land to create economic opportunity out of environmental restoration. Since 1984, they have helped more than 100,000 people in some 230 villages lift themselves out of poverty through our holistic approach to sustainable development.

We invite you to join us, and Plant With Purpose.

Please take time out to view the video before reading the article. It’s a great cause!!. 


Plant With Purpose - Northern Thailand

Plant With Purpose works with rural hill tribes in Northern Thailand to help holistically address the social, economic and environmental issues plaguing these upland farmers and their land.

This work includes training in innovative agriculture, improved water resource management, access to microcredit, community development, and discipleship for a growing number of the rural hill tribe communities.


Historically, the rural hill tribes of Northern Thailand have been marked by poverty, displacement and widespread environmental degradation.

Despite these problems, however, Plant With Purpose has witnessed hope and the growing possibility of long-term restoration and transformation in the area, if steps are taken to holistically address the social, economic and environmental issues plaguing these farmers and their land.

Plant With Purpose - Northern Thailand

Plant With Purpose’s indigenously managed program in Thailand involves working in areas where poverty and environmental degradation naturally intersect.

They foster an attitude of innovation amongst farmers, empowering them to generate alternative enterprises and make the most out of the land they do have.

The training curriculum includes sustainable agriculture and agro forestry methods, soil and water conservation, and community financial management.

Mindful of the greater cultural context, Plant With Purpose’s program in Thailand also facilitates training on property and citizenship rights, as well as women’s rights and gender issues.


Plant With Purpose - Northern Thailand

The Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces of Northern Thailand are home to many marginalized hill tribes, many of them refugees from Burma, displaced by civil strife and uprooted by forest authorities.

Because district forestry authorities have banned “Slash & Burn”cultivation in many areas, farmers have limited access to permanent, rain-fed fields, leaving them with barren, degraded hillsides on which to survive and make a living.

Forest resources—critical for medicine, food, and construction—are declining in availability as land is taken over for conservation or expanding crop production.

Meanwhile over the long term, environmental destruction and deforestation has made farming conditions increasingly hostile, and poor farmers watch in hunger and anguish as crop yields dwindle year after year, leaving them with few options but to resort to cutting trees in a desperate attempt to provide for their families.

In exercising the only methods they know to sustain their families, farmers are paradoxically destroying their primary source of sustenance, creating an inescapable and destructive cycle of poverty and environmental destruction.

The disappearance of forest cover in the region has only exacerbated poor soil conditions and contaminated local water supplies, pushing marginalized hill tribe farmers into even more desperate poverty.

According to the World Health Organization, “Among the population living in poverty (in Thailand), 86.2 percent are in rural areas. About 2 in 3 of them lived in the Northern & North-Eastern regions of Thailand.”

The specific effects of this de-forestation-poverty cycle includes:
• Catastrophic soil erosion
• Loss of rivers, streams, and groundwater
• Local climate change, making rainfall patterns less reliable and farming without irrigation much riskier
• Degradation of watersheds
• Pollution of water supplies (from siltation)
• Broken families and communities
• Loss of biodiversity
• Malnutrition due to a poor diet, consisting of limited crops grown in severely degraded soil


Plant With Purpose - Northern Thailand

Plant With Purpose’s program in Thailand is transforming lives through integrated solutions that holistically address the complex problems of poverty and deforestation while working to transform the lives of individuals and their families through long-term spiritual growth.

Plant With Purpose’s highly qualified, indigenous staff seek to offer sustainable solutions to the complex problems of environmental degradation, poor water quality and sanitation, lack of economic opportunity, citizenship and land rights issues, and despair in Northern Thailand.

“We teach” – Community Development is the process of empowerment. Plant With Purpose’s program encourages rural communities to take ownership of their own problems, giving them the self-confidence to seek out and apply local solutions.

The rural poor must believe and trust in the abilities they have been gifted with, and must have ownership of the process of development. This takes time, but results are profound and long lasting.

Two crucial ways Plant With Purpose empowers marginalized groups in Thailand is through 1) capacity building for women and 2) assisting hill tribes members to gain Thai citizenship.

Women’s tribal and inter-tribal networks facilitate workshops that address the developing role of women in society and build capacity through micro-finance. Plant With Purpose also hosts Handicraft Workshops for village women to enhance their skills in various cottage industries, such as using natural dyes and soap making.

Additionally, Plant With Purpose works with members from the hill tribes to achieve citizenship and educate them on their rights in Thailand. Lacking Thai citizenship prevents hill tribe people from travel, continuing education, owning land, gaining employment, and enjoying normal benefits granted to Thai citizens.

Plant With Purpose and the Upland Holistic Development Project (UHDP) serve as advocates for those marginalized by the government, helping residents navigate the difficult process of gaining citizenship and empowering them to transform their lives.

“We plant” – Innovative agriculture and forestry enable farmers to make the best possible use of the assets they already possess. Absence of vegetation results in severe erosion, poor water retention/spring replenishment, and low productivity.

Plant With Purpose’s staff is teaching farmers techniques to strengthen watersheds, which significantly improves vegetative cover and increases topsoil fertility. A lack of available water for trees, crops, and people is another major barrier to successful development.

As part of its sustainable agriculture development, Plant With Purpose assists communities in improving their water systems with the construction of water tanks and sanitary latrines to improve consumption, sanitation, hygiene and agricultural activities.

Alongside its agro-forestry and water resource projects, Plant With Purpose promotes home gardening, or backyard agriculture, to increase family food security and income. Many people in the UHDP focus areas are day laborers for lack of land.

Workshops are held in communities to complement local knowledge of perennial and annual crops and animal production of pigs and catfish. The ability to grow vegetables and raise animals around the home prevents scarce financial resources from leaving the household.


Plant With Purpose - Northern Thailand

“We create enterprise” – Credit helps people to progress beyond bare subsistence, as well as to diversify village economies. Micro-enterprise credit is the world’s most effective poverty fighter, and Plant With Purpose assists villages in establishing community-based revolving loan groups for purchasing livestock and other backyard agriculture investments, as well as starting small businesses.

Plant With Purpose finances a broad range of environmentally sustainable and economically viable businesses and agricultural projects, offering reasonable interest rates and making it possible for even the poorest of farmers to qualify for a “hand up, not a handout”.

Peer accountability generated by these self-governing groups has resulted in an excellent loan repayment rate thus far, ensuring that the banking systems are not only effective, but also sustainable.

“We share the gospel” – Discipleship occurs through long-term relationships that are formed as the Plant With Purpose staff works closely with individuals and community leaders.

Plant With Purpose aims to make discipleship an integrated component of regular teachings and community interactions, the love and opportunities we share are unconditional: participation in any of its programs is not contingent upon faith, nor does Plant With Purpose require participation in Bible studies or church services.


Plant With Purpose - Northern Thailand

The central components of Plant With Purpose’s program in Thailand include:

1. Community Development:
The success of Plant With Purpose’s programs is largely contingent upon a long-term change in attitude within a community. Too often, the poor have been misled into believing they have no talents and nothing to offer in the way of a solution to their poverty.

Community development, however, makes it possible for individuals and communities to discover and release their talents, utilizing their unique God-given gifts to identify problems, develop their own solutions, and ultimately build a better future.

Through the process, they develop self-confidence, a sense of responsibility, and increased capacity to initiate positive change. The result is a restoration of people’s dignity, a sense of project ownership, and long-term program sustainability.

Two projects unique to our program in Thailand include training on women and gender issues and citizenship and related rights. These programs target groups that have been historically overlooked and marginalized, empowering them to overcome poverty and build a better future for their families.

2. Training and assistance:
Training & assistance in innovative agriculture and sustainable forestry (including water systems).Plant With Purpose provides training in agro forestry systems that help farmers work with the land rather than against it.

For example, fruit trees provide food and a cash crop; woody perennial trees are planted as an investment in the longevity of the forest, and nitrogen-fixing trees supply nutrients to the depleted soil.

In addition, planting trees provides restored ground cover and living barriers that reduce erosion, enabling farmers to rebuild their land and natural resources while improving crop yields.

3. Micro-Credit and Savings:
Micro-credit and savings systems for farmers without access to commercial banks, Plant With Purpose is currently collaborating with UHDP to develop a method and plan for facilitating micro-economic development through savings and loan groups in the hill tribe region.

Building on Plant With Purpose’s experience implementing micro-enterprise credit systems in its programs around the world, Plant With Purpose will establish credit cooperatives composed of 20-120 members per village.

Typically, 40% of these co-operative members are women. Members of each co-operative must approve loans for peers within the co-operative, and are held accountable through peer oversight.

If one member defaults, the group must cover that person’s loan in order for others to receive more credit.The groups provide 30% of all loans from their own funds, which have been accumulated through a savings program. Plant With Purpose provides the remaining capital for loans.

4. Spiritual Transformation:
Plant With Purpose believes that human transformation and social empowerment can only be fully realized through a relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, sharing the news of this relationship is a key aspect of human development and the Plant With Purpose program. For those who already have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, discipleship becomes an important aspect of development.

Sharing this good news with the poor and destitute can only come about through trust and personal relationships. Plant With Purpose’s evangelistic approach recognizes the plight of the rural poor and the need to minister to them through word and deed.

Plant With Purpose - Northern Thailand

Plant With Purpose’s experienced and compassionate staff is helping farmers in Northern Thailand to care for their land, provide for their families, and build a better future for their children.

We invite you to partner with us on one of Plant With Purpose’s most exciting projects yet as we work to promote community development and reduce poverty.

With your support and advocacy this innovative, integrated program will empower desperate farmers to transform their communities, bringing hope and life to a displaced people. Please join us on this journey of hope and transformation.



Editor’s Note: This is a really great cause, that will help provide long term benefits to some of Thailand’s poorest regions & people – PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY.