“I’m absolutely happy”, says an elderly farmer sitting next to me. Gentle wind messes up his long dark hair as he looks at me kindly through his black-rimmed glasses. He seems a bit shy, but probably of his English language skills.
“It was the happiest day of my life - the day I began living my own life surrounded by nature, in line with the world, provided with good food and in full self-sufficiency, following the will of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I have a small farm on some 7 acres of land, but it provides me and my family with everything I need and it’s 90% self-sufficient. I don't use any chemicals or antibiotics. My animals are happy”, he adds.
His name is Khun Akra, and he invites me to take a tour of his farm. We see large barrels of compost with soil-treating earthworms, pots with herbal infusions, wooden beehives with wild bees buzzing happily; Khun Akra invites me to try every herb and fruit growing on his land; we go past a little pond – his own fish farm - and a young trees plantation. “I planted these for the air. You can feel the air is cleaner here, don’t you? And in some 30 years they will give precious timber for my daughter to use for her benefit”, says Khun Akra with a smile.
“Phuket is crowded with tourists, so we have to bring food from other provinces. And it’s often of low quality and can cause health issues in the future. Mass tourism causes pollution as well. I dream of people changing their attitude towards the land. We have been here for a short time but have already made a lot of mistakes. I dream of food being safe again”, he explains.
“If people in Phuket start planting more food and growing it organic and clean, this can be the island's new signature feature,” he adds.
When I was leaving the farm, an amazing feeling filled my heart. With a vision like this, Khun Akra is anybody but a casual Phuket farmer.