Adversity Pushes Southern Thais Toward Alternative Industries

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Using simple tools found in their homes, villagers catch shellfish in the Saiburi River in Yala province’s Raman district, May 9, 2016. [Nasueroh/BenarNews]


Baan Janan villagers prepare a net to catch shrimp and fish in the Pattani River in Muang district, Yala province, May 9, 2016. [Nasueroh/BenarNews]


Drought conditions have reduced water levels in the Pattani River. [Nasueroh/BenarNews]


Women and children cut Garcinia oranges and dry them to sell in Yala province’s Yaha district, May 9, 2016. [Nasueroh/BenarNews]


A man in Yaha district dries fruit to supplement his income from tapping rubber, May 9, 2016. [Nasueroh/BenarNews]


Women and children in Yaha crack betel nuts and dry them for sale, May 9, 2016. [Nasueroh/BenarNews]

As rubber prices slump and drought drives river levels to their lowest in years, villagers in Thailand’s Deep South are creating opportunities to dip in and harvest the sea’s bounty. Others choose to pick, crack and dry betel nuts and some pick, cut and dry Garcinia oranges (asam gelugur) to sell at markets.

“The drought reduces water to the bottom ground. Villagers can make additional income from simply walking into the river and catching small shrimp, fish and shellfish after returning home from rubber tapping. Each family can catch about seven to nine pounds each day and sell at the market for $1.36 per pound which is considered a good price. That can reduce the problem of insufficient income to feed the family,” Muhammadyakee Useng, a villager in Muang district of Yala province, told BenarNews.

Masuena Manahing said as rubber prices drop, people must find ways to make extra income. “Doing something to earn some money is better than doing nothing,” she said.

“Most men will go out to pick betel nuts and Garcinia (local orange from the area) and bring home for their women and children to crack, cut in halves to dry and sell as dried fruit. The income will be split among us all.”


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