In the last three years, the “Village Fund and Urban Community” project has changed its approach considerably. Originally, it provided loans to the Fund members. Subsequently, it has provided villagers with opportunities to become entrepreneurs who have collaboratively launched projects that best suit their communities.
Over the period 2016 - 2018, there were a total of 79,598 funds across Thailand with 12 million members. The funds offered the villagers occupational opportunities, as well as promoted their products and services, and assisted in infrastructure development. These in turn helped create jobs and generate income, promoting people’s accessibility to public welfare and helping solve various problems in the villages and communities. The remarkable success of the Village Funds has been clearly reflected in the establishment of community shops and drinking water projects, agriculture support, Pracharat products and Pracharat marketing schemes.
The Village Fund and Urban Community Project has received strong academic support from 38 ‘Rajabhat universities’ nationwide. Apart from serving as a source of knowledge, the universities act as mentors, providing consultation and suggestions on how to draw up a project proposal to be submitted to the government, and transferring essential knowledge on business operations to the funds across the country. With the guidelines from the universities, the projects are operated in compliance with royal philosophies and the Pracharat policy to boost sustainable development in the villages and communities. The universities have also helped with the production of capable personnel in much-needed occupational fields, such as licensed certified auditors.
Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered a speech highlighting the performance of the Village Fund and Urban Community Project according to the Pracharat policy on January 10, 2019. He said the government has a policy to support people through the Pracharat mechanism to promote strong communities that will further lead to stability, prosperity and sustainability for Thailand. Development must be based on moderation, reasonableness, immunity and the application of technologies and local wisdom. Experience alone may not be enough. Changes in practices and learning, as well as improvements in production processes and marketing in line with the Thailand 4.0 development plan are also needed to drive development of the country.
“The government has recognized the importance of the Village Fund and Urban Community Project for its role in driving forward numerous projects to reverse poverty and raise the people’s quality of life in a sustainable manner. We are confident that the Project, with its networks nationwide, will be a key driving force to move forward the grassroots economy by reducing inequality, creating job opportunities and professional careers, as well as generating income for people. The Project, therefore, is considered a strong and stable fund in accordance with the government policy of ‘no one will be left behind’,” the Prime Minister said.
Over the past three years, budget has been allocated to continue projects in accordance with Pracharat guidelines, namely: 1. 35 billion baht for the project to strengthen the grass-roots economy in accordance with Pracharat guidelines in 2016; 2. 15 billion baht for the project to boost the capacity of villages and communities to foster the grass-roots economy in 2017; and 3. 20 billion baht for the Sustainable Village and Community Development Project in line with the royal philosophy and the Pracharat policy in 2018.
This resulted in more than 200,000 projects, including at least 25,000 community stores across the country, 56,000 agricultural extension projects, 37,000 public product projects and 2,900 public marketing projects. The projects helped generate employment for over 1.6 million people and total income over three years of more than 39 billion baht with 8.5 billion baht in profits for the members.
Many projects were successful and won awards for communities in recognition of their efforts in implementing the 20-year national strategy, particularly in six areas, including 1. Solving the problems of suffering by fostering happiness and stability; 2. Increasing development potential and capability; 3. Developing and enhancing human resources; 4. Creating equal opportunities and reducing inequality; 5. Developing quality of life by being friendly to the environment; and 6. Integrating village and community development activities into sustainable development goals.
The Wat Khae Nok Pracharat Floating Market in Bang Kraseu District, Mueang Nonthaburi is one of the most successful prototype projects of the Village Fund.
Mr. Surachat Kannim, President of the Wat Khae Nok Pracharat Floating Market, said that the floating market project had been created through the strength of the 57 village funds in Mueang Nonthaburi, which brainstormed the project and sourced finance from their own funds to jointly develop the floating market as a tourist destination and to sell quality products from all 57 communities. Apart from the floating market, other tourism attractions have been developed such as boat trips along the Chao Phraya River, restaurants, and conference and seminar halls for rent, all of which have brought in substantial income for the communities.
“Apart from the income generated, we have succeeded in creating jobs for many people in the area, established a sales point for community products, while temples, schools and communities in the surrounding area also benefit from the floating market. The project represents a great opportunity for the local people to be able to build up the grass-roots economy by themselves.”
New Village Fund 2016 – 2018
- 79,598 funds / 13 million members
- Implemented in accordance with 20-year strategy in 6 areas
- 38 Rajabhat Universities as mentors / Auditing system
- 200,000 projects / 25,000 community stores / 56,000 agricultural extension programs / 37,000 public product developments / 2,900 public marketing projects
- Employment created for 1.6 million people
- 2016 budget: 35 billion Baht
- 2017 budget: 15 billion Baht
- 2018 budget: 20 billion Baht