H.E. Mr. TheeraWongsamut
Minister of of Agriculture and Cooperatives
The Ninth Asia –Pacific Cooperative Minister’s Conference
At The United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok
27 February 2012
The Sufficiency EconomyPhilosophy
“Sufficiency Economy” is a philosophy bestowed by His Majesty the King to his subjects through royal pronouncements made on many occasions over the past three decades. The philosophy provides guidance on appropriate conduct covering numerous aspects of life. After the economic crisis in 1997, His Majesty reiterated and expanded on the concept of “Sufficiency Economy” in further remarks made in December 1997 and again in December 1998. The philosophy points the way to recovery that will lead to a more resilient and sustainable economy, better able to meet the challenges arising from globalization and other changes.
* A working definition compiled from remarks made by His Majesty the King on various occasions and approved by His Majesty and sent by His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary to the NESDB on November 29, 1999.
Philosophy of “Sufficiency Economy”
“Sufficiency Economy” is a philosophy that stresses the middle path as an overriding principle for appropriate conduct at all levels of society.
means moderation, reasonableness, and the need for self-immunity to gain sufficient protection from impacts arising from internal and external changes.
HM King’s Philosophy of "Sufficiency Economy”
The Middle Path
(an application of knowledge with due consideration and prudence )
Moral Condition(honesty, integrity, diligence, patience, perseverance)
The New Thoery (con’t)
The New Thoery (con’t)
New Theory for Agriculture
1. First step The aim is to let the farmers be able to support themselves (self-sufficiency) especially concerning rice. If the main problem is water then they should dig a pond in their land to make sure that they have enough water for farming and household usages which they might need support from the government or private sector in digging the pond.
2. Second step Farmers should work together and create a cooperative to reduce the cost of production and for saving purposes as well as social security and together they will also have more negotiating power in selling their products to the markets.
3. Third step For developed communities, further expansion of the production process and commerce such as cooperative stores or rice milling factories can rely further from the cooperation from commercial banks or oil companies in improving their livelihood.
the land should be divided into a proportion of 30:30:30:10 as follows:
1st portion: Farm pond=30%
2nd portion: Main production/Paddy field=30%
3rd portion: Other production =30%
4th portion: Housing & others= 10%
(Strengthening people in the community)
self-help / self responsibility
Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy
Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy
Thank YouSawasdee Krub
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This post is part of a blogging series by economics students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. You can follow along here .
The economy is a major force driving our lives, from the purchasing decisions we make to the public and private institutions we support. It determines how wealthy nations and their people are, and consequently becomes a determining factor for assessing quality of life. On the other hand, when the economy collapses, it brings us enormous devastation and takes wealth and prosperity back from the people. When an economy ceases to grow, it’s not easy –or maybe even impossible — to bring it back to the state where it used to be. Suppose that we are lucky enough to see economic growth and prosperity again, how can we know that a collapse is not going to happen in the future? Maybe it’s time for us not to rely too heavily on conventional economic theories, but instead start to look for a more sustainable and effective economic strategy. The Sufficiency Economy might be a better solution for mankind to pursue and improve upon.
The Sufficiency Economy is a philosophy developed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand through his royal remarks over the past three decades. The Sufficiency Economy is a happiness development approach, which emphasizes the middle path as an overriding principle for appropriate conduct by people at all levels. The middle path is a way of thinking in which no one lives tooextravagantly or too thriftily. It encourages people to live in a way where they consume only what they really need, choose products carefully, and consider their impact on others and the planet. The sufficiency economy enhances the nation’s ability to modernize without defying globalization – it provides a means to respond to negative outcomes caused by rapid economic transitions. This philosophy is a guide to making decisions that will generate outcomes that are beneficial to the development of the country.
Thailand values this new economics philosophy as a practical tool to effectively manage capitalism in a way that aligns and engages it with social sustainable development. In doing so, Thailand hopes that this approach will foster accountability and empower people and their communities. More importantly, the main goal of The Sufficiency Economy is to measure economic development not just using GDP, but also by taking the reduction of social inequality and poverty into account. This philosophy is also expected to help prevent another economic collapse such as the one that occurred during the mid-90s, and to be a powerful tool for moving the nation overall economy upward.
In this globalized world, we too often expect economic decisions to happen quickly without realizing that these hasty choices could adversely affect our lives and the lives of generations that come after us. It could also be argued that many of the past economic recessions resulted from the greediness and shortsighted decision-making of a group of bankers and executives. I believe that integrating the concept of The Sufficiency Economy into our worldview will give us a different perspective that promotes gradual development based on self-reliance and the principle of having “enough.” We would all do well to keep the three main tenets of this philosophy (moderation, reasonableness, and self-immunity) in mind as we try to change peoples ‘ attitudes, behaviors, and way of living at both the micro and macro level.2 responses
It’s refreshing to hear a viewpoint from a country that isn’t usually on the global economic radar. I think we have a lot to learn from philosophies such as this one – a nation’s health cannot be measured solely by its economic growth. The general principles mentioned in the post reminded me of Bhutan and it’s gross happiness product – again another philosophy spawned by a predominantly buddhist nation.
How can this “Sufficiency Economy” be preached to countries where materialism and capitalism underlie most individuals “mindset” of a successful life? I would be interested to hear the King’s approach on this? Thank you.Leave a Reply Cancel reply
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The following guest post comes from John Jackson, author of ‘A Little Piece of England: A Tale of Self-Sufficiency ’, which tells the tale of how the he and his family, living in a sliver of countryside in London’s commuter belt, worked to become self-sufficient. I approached John about reviewing his book and agreed to participate in their virtual book tour by allowing him to share his thoughts on self-sufficiency Vs. “selfish sufficiency”. Enjoy!
Self-Sufficiency: Philosophy & Economy
I have said many times that self sufficiency is about philosophy as well as economy. This is particularly important if the self sufficiency is conducted on a co-operative family basis. All the family members learn how to take responsibility for a particular task and to do it well for the benefit of the whole family as well as themselves. That engenders self respect and a sense of self reliance but in the context of a communal whole. We have evolved as social animals but the modern world sometimes over rewards individualism. That is why I have often also pointed out the difference between self sufficiency and selfish sufficiency.
Self-sufficiency can be practiced almost anywhere .
It is wrong to think of self sufficiency as if it expresses some kind of art form. Nor should those with more experience think of themselves as ‘advanced’ or in any way superior. Of course it is wise to start small, to realise that one has much to learn and be prepared to learn from or help others. But that is common sense and something different. Self sufficiency, if one really wants to ‘do it’, can be tried in nearly all circumstances. Growing herbs on ones window cill is one example and, provided you can secure safely the hutch in the interest of the inhabitants and those below, that same widow cill can harbour urban rabbits.
Balance and common sense.
It is, I think, unwise to centre ones life round self sufficiency, to ‘move to the country’, to change ones personal circumstances so as to be more or less self sufficient. Far better to aim for a balanced life recognising that many different factors (not least the situation of different family members) determine where the balancing point is at different times. The degree of self sufficiency that is possible or sensible will change therefor and looking back or forward makes little sense. Indeed flexibility and the ability to adjust and re-balance are an important part of self sufficiency in both a philosophical and economic sense.
A bout the author
John Jackson is the author of ‘A Little Piece of England: A Tale of Self-Sufficiency ’, which tells the tale of how the he and his family, living in a sliver of countryside in London’s commuter belt, came, over some ten years, to make itself self-sufficient. At the time, John was on the Board of Directors of the electronics company, Philips, and his wife was raising their three young children so it was the ultimate ‘spare time’ project.
To buy the book, please head to amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. where it is available as an ebook or in paperback.
THE BOOK TOUR
You have reached the end of the book tour. To find out more about John and his book please head to www.jjbooks.com .
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T he economic crisis of 1997 affected everyone in Thailand, even His Majesty the King. Seeing many of his subjects suffering, he advised the Thai people to change their economic philosophy in order to cope with present economic adversity and withstand future economic insecurity. His Majesty’s words have become known as the Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy and have been used as the guiding principle in drafting the current 9 th National Economic and Social Development Plan.
The philosophy can be summed up in one paragraph, as translated from the Thai:
“Sufficiency Economy is a philosophy that guides the livelihood and behavior of people at all levels, from the family to the community to the country, on matters concerning national development and administration. It calls for a ‘middle way’ to be observed, especially in pursuing economic development in keeping with the world of globalization. Sufficiency means moderation and reasonableness, including the need to build a reasonable immune system against shocks from the outside or from the inside. Intelligence, attentiveness, and extreme care should be used to ensure that all plans and every step of their implementation are based on knowledge. At the same time we must build up the spiritual foundation of all people in the nation, especially state officials, scholars, and business people at all levels, so they are conscious of moral integrity and honesty and they strive for the appropriate wisdom to live life with forbearance, diligence, self-awareness, intelligence, and attentiveness. In this way we can hope to maintain balance and be ready to cope with rapid physical, social, environmental, and cultural changes from the outside world.”
This philosophical statement has lent itself to interpretation by diverse groups of people. First, we can dismiss outright the extreme interpretation that the Sufficiency Economy means complete self-reliance or autarky. In an autarchic system, a country or unit thereof relies upon itself and its people to produce all its needs with no dependence on others. It may do this voluntarily (cutting off contacts with the outside world) or by necessity (because it is incapable of generating those contacts). But His Majesty the King explicitly rejected this interpretation: “This self-sufficiency does not mean that every family must grow food for themselves, to make clothes for themselves; that is too much. But in a village or sub-district there should be a reasonable amount of sufficiency. If they grow or produce something more than they need they can sell them. But they do not need to sell them very far; they can sell them in nearby places without having to pay high transport costs.”
Some people have attempted to link this economic philosophy with the so-called “Gandhian Economy.” Along the lines proposed by Mahatma Gandhi, this is an economy based on family-level or village-level small-scale enterprises and traditional methods. It may have been appropriate to India in the mid-twentieth century, when the people were poor and technology was limited. But in the present, it may be too restrictive to expect families to do everything by themselves using simple tools and machinery, such as traditional spinning wheels to make cloth. Perhaps the basic idea of Gandhian simplicity – a life less encumbered by modern needs and modern technology – could make people happier. But in the very open world of today, self-sufficiency a la Gandhi is too extreme.
We also hear people relating the Sufficiency Economy to the knowledge and applicability of Buddhism. In Buddhism, life, especially spiritual life, is enhanced by cutting out excessive wants and greed. True happiness may be attained when a person is fully satisfied with what he or she has and is at peace with the self. To strive to consume more leads to unhappiness if (or when) consumption is not satisfied or falls short of expectations. A sufficiency economy in this context would be an economy fundamentally conditioned by basic need, not greed, and restrained by a conscious effort to cut consumption. This is probably acceptable insofar as it does not reject gains in welfare and well-being due to greater consumption.
Looking back, it can be seen that His Majesty has talked about the sufficiency idea since 1974. In his customary birthday speech of that year, he wished everyone in Thailand “sufficient to live and to eat” (Por You Por Kin). This was indeed a precursor to the sufficiency economy. His Majesty also said: “The development of a country must be by steps. It must start with basic sufficiency in food and adequate living, using techniques and instruments which are economical but technically sound. When this foundation is secured, then higher economic status and progress can be established.” (See Apichai Puntasen, “The King’s Sufficiency Economy and Its Interpretation by Economists,” prepared for the 1999 Year-End Conference of the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), Pattaya, 18-19 December 1999.)
This is very clear: it shows that His Majesty did not deny economic progress and globalization, as some people have interpreted. Indeed the word “globalization” (โลกาภิวัตน์. lokapiwat) is used in the statement on Sufficiency Economy that His Majesty has endorsed. The notion that Sufficiency Economy is anti-globalization should be put to rest forever.
Still, there are attempts by various segments of the Thai population to dissociate this new economy from the realm of mainstream economics that stresses economic rationality and efficiency in resource allocation. It is obvious that His Majesty’s Sufficiency Economy is not the type found in a mainstream economics textbook, but it would be inaccurate to interpret it as the antithesis of mainstream economics in every respect. On the contrary, I think we can understand Sufficiency Economy within the framework of economic rationality and efficiency in allocative choices. The difference is not in type, but in degree or magnitude of economic behavior. His Majesty used the phrase “middle path” or “middle way” to describe the pattern of life every Thai should lead – a life dictated by moderation, reasonableness, and the ability to withstand shock. Can we find something in mainstream economics that captures the spirit of this philosophy?
I propose to use my own understanding of economic optimization. It is possible to see the Sufficiency Economy as consisting of two frameworks. One is the inevitability of facing the globalized world in which economic efficiency and competition are the rules of the game; the other is the need for economic security and the capacity to protect oneself from external shock and instability. Thinking within the first framework – the basic tenet of mainstream economics – we must realise the opportunity costs involved in every decision we make. We gain from specialization and division of labor because the opportunity costs of doing everything by ourselves is much higher. The laws of comparative advantage and gains from trade are at work in today’s world. But it would be foolish to pursue all-out specialization without basic security, especially in food, shelter, and clothing. This is where the framework of the new Sufficiency Economy comes in. This concerns the basic capacity of the people of a country to look after themselves. The optimization principle applies when we seek to answer the question: How much of our time and energy should be devoted to the first and second frameworks, respectively? In other words, how much resources should be allocated to producing for trade based on comparative advantage principle, and how much for basic security? The best mix between the two allocations would represent the optimal state of affairs, both in mainstream and Sufficiency Economics.
The author is professor of economics at the School of Development Economics, National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA).
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