With support from provincial authorities and a German technical assistance agency, farmers in Krabi are learning eco-friendly methods in the hopes the industry will see continued growth.
Kuakoon Siangtaen starts the day by unlocking his tool room and taking out a small plough. He then heads for his oil palm plantation a short walk from his home. Dawn is breaking as he walks slowly, savouring the peace and quiet of the green surroundings.
''A modern oil palm plantation needs a grower who has learned how to cultivate oil palms,'' said the 35-year-old native of Krabi. ''I am still learning to do my work well.'' Mr Kuakoon spent more than 10 years studying and working in Bangkok, where he met his wife, before returning to his hometown in Plai Phraya district four months ago. It was the right move, he says. Life is not so hard in Krabi, and they earn more income from oil palm than they would as office workers in Bangkok.
When he was five years old, Mr Kuakoon's father had already established himself as a successful rubber farmer, cultivating 70 rai (11.2 hectares) of rubber trees. Mr Kuakoon knows how to tap rubber, but oil palm cultivation is a whole new experience for him. He was in Bangkok when his father decided to set aside 40 rai of the rubber plantation for oil palm cultivation in 2001.
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