The problem of haze in Northern Thailand from a global food systems perspective
Richard Friend (University of York)
David Blake (University of York)
Samarthia Thankappan (University of York)
Pongtip Thiengburanathum (Chiang Mai University)
Poon Thiengburanathum (Chiang Mai University)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on the case study of Mae Chaem district, this paper approaches the environmental problem of haze in the context of emerging global food systems, and the increasingly complex networks of production, exchange and consumption that shape local agricultural practice.
Paper long abstract:
In 2018 haze has once again become a public policy problem in Chiang Mai and the north of Thailand. Largely framed as an environmental problem with human health consequences, the main responsibility for causing the problem has been placed firmly on the practice of upland farmers in the province and across Northern Thailand. This is an argument that fits with an enduring policy narrative that frames environmental problems experienced by downstream urban people as the result of a lack of understanding of the forest and the environment among farmers. Such a framing of the policy problem leads to intervention strategies that are focused on awareness raising and encouraging changes in agricultural practice. However the reasons why farmers do what they do defies such simplistic explanations. The problem itself requires a more holistic, systems oriented analysis that incorporates the dynamics of agrarian change in a marginalised area of the country, and that contextualises local agricultural production practice within an increasingly globalised food system. Drawing on the case study of Mae Chaem district, this paper argues that haze must be seen in a broader context as a result of emerging global food systems. The case study speaks to policy issues of global significance; the increasingly complex networks of production, exchange and consumption that shape local agricultural practice, and that generate multi-scalar environmental impacts. Addressing these challenges requires conceptual framework and diverse multi-disciplinary research methods that can accommodate both complex social-ecological systems, political ecology and actor-oriented approaches.
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