Unraveling the Differences Between Organic and Non-Organic Thai Rice Farmers' Environmental Views and Perceptions of Well-being
Keywords:Organic Agriculture, Buddhism, Environmental, Well-Being, World Views
AbstractFood production, a critical aspect of human development, depends on the regulating and supporting services of the ecosystem. However, the expansion and intensification of agriculture to meet rising human consumption levels have played havoc with ecosystem provisioning services by way of climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and water pollution. Development experts argue that modern agricultural methods also have led to the exodus of farmers from rural to urban areas and the disintegration of rural social safety nets. Few studies have explored the impacts of a shift to modern agricultural methods on farmers' well-being from a holistic perspective. This research sheds light on organic and non-organic farmers' environmental views, well-being, and production methods in the impoverished Northeast Region of Thailand. Structured questionnaires were used to examine differences in farmers' perspectives on their own well-being. Analysis shows that a Buddhist environmental worldview was not exclusive to either organic or non-organic farmers. Organic rice farmers were no more food secure than those farmers who used synthetic agro-chemicals to raise productivity. Participants from both groups also suffered from similar levels of stress due to outstanding loans. While some organic farmers sustained high levels of food security and were able to lower debts by using organic fertilizer methods, they also were bound by the financial demands of their families. It is highly recommended that experts consider farmers' environmental views and perceptions of well-being before deciding on ways to attract them to organic agriculture.
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