Thailand and Myanmar are stepping up cooperation in alternative development to help ease the drug problem and improve the people’s quality of life, on the path toward sustainable development.
The Cabinet, during its meeting on 10 July 2012, acknowledged the results of talks between Thailand and Myanmar, which agreed to launch an alternative development cooperation project.
It was told that the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, under the Ministry of Justice, and the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control of Myanmar held the first Thailand-Myanmar Executive Meeting on Alternative Development Cooperation on 2-3 March 2012. The meeting took place in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, and Tachilek in Myanmar.
At the meeting, the Myanmar government agreed to the proposal by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board for the Thai-Myanmar alternative development cooperation project. The Office and the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control of Myanmar will set guidelines for the project, while Mae Fah Luang Foundation in Thailand and the Ministry for Progress of the Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs, NATALA, in Myanmar will be the operators.
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board has allocated 15 million baht to the Mae Fah Luang Foundation for use in preparing the project by sending a team to survey target sites in Myanmar and provide training for local people. Both Thailand and Myanmar will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the cooperation project after it is approved by the Thai and Myanmar Cabinets.
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board reported that, in the next step, it would submit details of the project and a budget request to the Cabinet for approval. The alternative development cooperation project will be carried out for a period of six years and will be divided into two phases; each phase will last three years.
According to the Office, the project will offer an alternative way of life for Myanmar people, who will be urged to shift from cultivating opium poppy to farming other crops. It will provide an opportunity for Thailand to share its best practices and experience in the application of this concept sustainable development.
Thailand’s began sustainable alternative development projects, initiated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej more than 40 years ago. His Majesty’s achievements include successful integrated rural development projects in northern Thailand that have helped reduce opium poppy cultivation through crop substitution. This has greatly benefited ethnic groups living in the mountainous areas along the borders with Myanmar and Lao PDR, and also brought improvements to their access to health care and education.