The opium-producing Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand


I. Conclusions
II. Recommendations
(a) Short-term
(b) Vegetable seed, including "seed" potato (Solanum)

(c) Pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium)
(d) Virginia or Burley tobacco
(e) Tea
(f) Coffee
(g) Livestock husbandry, health and production
(a) Soil survey and land use studies in selected sectors of the sub-region
(b) Ecological-agricultural investigation of the problems and potentialities of "swidden" (" tham rai ") in its principal forms and stages
(c) Agricultural experimentation, extension and related facilities and services
(b) Long-term
(c) Concluding remarks regarding recommendations both short- and long-term
(a) The existing situation
(b) The characteristics of a Hill Tribes agency
(c) Arguments against a Hill Tribes agency
(d) Arguments in favour of a Hill Tribes agency
II. The future of the Tribal Research Centre
III. Appointment of District Hill Tribes Officers
(a) Reduction of opium
(b) Agricultural development
(c) P olitical development
IV. Consideration of problems of land tenure
V. Appointment of Special Adviser on Hill Tribes Development


Pages: 1 to 30
Creation Date: 1969/01/01

The opium-producing Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand

Recommendations made by the U.N. Survey Team *

Extracts from the Report of the United Nations Survey Team on the economic and social needs of the opium-producing areas in Thailand were published in the last two numbers of the Bulletin. The Report is now being considered by the Government.

In making their recommendations to the Government of Thailand in this field, the Survey Team have considered the problems concerning agriculture and forestry in great detail; the first part of the recommendations relating to this subject is preceded by the Team's main conclusions in this particular sphere of agriculture and forestry in respect of which it has taken into account aspects of the sociology, ecology and economy of these people.

The Survey Team then go on to present their recommendations as concerns opium, illicit traffic and addiction, and their recommendations conclude with a close analysis of the administrative provisions to be made for carrying out the wide ranging measures proposed in the main sphere of agriculture and forestry and the role that opium plays in it.

These recommendations illustrate the complex and detailed study that is required before an established narcotic crop can be replaced. This Report about Thailand can be read with advantage in connexion with other areas where the same problem needs to be faced.




I. Conclusions
II. Recommendations
( a) Short term
1. Cash commodities
(a) Peas
(b) Vegetable seed, including "seed" potato ( Solanum)
(c) Pyrethrum ( Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium)
(d) Virginia or Burley tobacco
(e) Tea
(f) Coffee
(g) Livestock husbandry, health and production
2. Services and surveys
(a) Soil survey and land use studies in selected sectors of the sub-region
(b)Ecological-agricultural investigation of the problems and potentialities of "Swidden" ( "Tham Rai") in its principal forms and stages

* The team was led by Professor J. F. V. Phillips, with Professor W. R. Geddes and F. T. Merrill serving as experts.

Contents ( continued )



( c) Agricultural experimentation, extension and related facilities and services
(i) Agricultural experimentation
(ii) Agricultural education and extension
(iii) Community development in relation to agricultural extension
(iv) Agricultural credit
(v) Land tenure
(vi) Roads and marketing
( a) Roads
( b) Marketing
(vii) Suggested priorities
( b) Long term
1. Cash commodities
( a) Continuation of propositions successful in the short term
( b) Possible propositions requiring a lengthy period for examination, putting into pilot operation and into phased development
(i) Forestry
( a) Pulping of pinus insularis Endl
( b) Industrial of plantations
( c) Research centre for fast-growing species in the hills
(ii) Breeding in practical numbers of improved livestock for purposes of a more intensive programme
(iii) Improvement of natural pasturage and browse and possible establishment of better pastures.
(iv) Home industries
2. Sundry continuing services for the advancement of agriculture
( c) Concluding remarks regarding recommendations both short- and long-term
I. Establishment of a Hill Tribes agency
( a) The existing situation
1. The work of the Border Patrol Police
2. The work of the Department of Public Welfare
3. The work of certain other Government agencies
( b) The characteristics of a Hill Tribes agency
( c) Arguments against a Hill Tribes agency
( d) Arguments in favour of a Hill Tribes agency
II. The future of the Tribal Research Centre
III. Appointment of District Hill Tribes Officers
( a) Reduction of opium
( b) Agricultural development
( c) Political development
IV. Consideration of problems of land tenure
V. Appointment of Special Adviser on Hill Tribes Development


While for convenience we number our conclusions relevant to this broad sphere of activity and productivity, we stress that there is no sequence of priorities implied. Our conclusions refer, rather, to an intricate web of ecological and economic relations inherent in the ecosystem in which the Hill Tribes are highly active associates.

I. Conclusions

  1. The Hill Tribes participating in the growing of poppy and the production of opium do, for all practical purposes, favour the several Hill Evergreen Forest ecotypes but do endeavour to grow this crop in locally favourable examples of the Upper (Moist) Mixed Deciduous Forest, where conditions of rainfall and soil are congenial and accessibility and other matters of convenience are favourable.

As those are the prime ecotypes associated with high humidity and rainfall, this interrelation would be of some practical significance if an appreciably closer, a much more intensive settlement and working of the soil and a heavier pressure of livestock upon the vegetation and the soil were to be brought about through an increase in human population and the number of pigs, cattle, and equines. This bears directly upon the challenge which permanent settlement would cast to both the administration and the people.

  1. "Swidden" is locally, fairly widely to widely practised, especially in the Hill Evergreen Forest ecotypes. Although there are local examples to the contrary, we believe that up to the present there has been no serious deterioration in either water or soil caused by this practice.

  2. Ingenuity is clearly shown by the Hill Tribes in evolving a pattern of "swidden" in relation to specific vegetation communities within the secondary succession leading to the re-establishment of forest. Were this not so, the results would be evident not only in the lower status of subsistence and cash economy of the people but also in the nature, structure and ecological characteristics of the vegetation stages and in the higher degree of deterioration and wastage of the several types of soil. We have been particularly impressed with the ability of the Miao and the Yao, but other tribes whom we have seen in their setting of "swidden" also appear to know what they are about. For this reason we conclude that under existing circumstances the people are making the best of their opportunities in producing subsistence and cash commodities without seriously exploiting the vegetation and its environment.

  3. We must emphasize, however, that these circumstances might well be far less satisfactory were intensive pressure brought to bear upon the ecosystem, and therefore we conclude that there is a limit beyond which the "swidden" system as at present practised could not support the people for an indefinite period.

Our recommendations are framed against the certainty that the delicate, dynamic equilibrium of the ecosystem would be destroyed were much more demanded of that ecosystem. Time, therefore, is the essence, in the administration and the people co-operating in endeavours to establish a sounder understanding and a more effective conservation and management of the vegetation, the water and the soil in this subregion.

Settlement of farmers upon the land would inevitably deteriorate and probably erode the soil, unless effective methods of conservation which implies economic farming are applied. No easy, short-term means of doing this is yet known.

  1. Although the natural water resources are locally good to fair, there is not much likelihood of their being developed for purposes of irrigation except, again, upon a restricted scale. The topography, the small water catchments, and the nature of the soils militate against this. Conversely, water for primary purposes for man and beast could be developed; indeed some of the Hill Tribes show ingenuity in leading water by gravity, through simple trenches and bamboo piping, to their villages for these purposes.

  2. From our comments upon the more widely distributed soil mapping units, based on studies by Moormann, Anthony and Samarn Panichapong (1964), and by Santhad Rojanasoonthon and Moormann (1966), it is evident that the Hill Tribes in those elevations where poppy is cultivated are deeply discerning regarding their selection of soil for "swidden". Our own observations confirm the general view advanced by Moorman (personal communication) that the red-yellow podzolic soils on acid rocks are rarely. cultivated because of their known poverty and unsatisfactory physical qualities, whereas the reddish brown lateritic soils are commonly cultivated despite their low to only moderate natural fertility, because of their excellent, relatively stable crumb structure, and good moisture-retaining capacity.

Of prime interest to poppy cultivators are of course the red brown earths, which are strongly influenced in the development of structure by the weathering products of limestone. Although these soils are less permeable to water and more susceptible to erosion, the circumstances of their cultivation upon steep slopes appear to reduce the amount of wastage occurring. Their rather high inherent fertility appears to have been discovered by the Hill Tribes growing poppy and other crops; these soils appear to be capable of supporting cultivation for a number of years (5 to over 10 years are often mentioned by Hill Tribe farmers). This general conclusion regarding the sense of understanding of soil characteristics and use shown by the people is important, because it suggests that much could be learned by farmers possessing this innate appreciation of one of their resources.

Blue Miao women and children

Full size image: 151 kB, Blue Miao women and children

  1. The capacity shown by many of the Hill farmers for dealing with the various stages of succession upon "swidden" areas with the understandable exception of so notoriously difficult a community as dense Imperata cylindrica (Alang alang) and the relatively high standard of their soil preparation, weeding, tending and harvesting, argue that these are by nature good farmers. Again, this is a conclusion of basic significance: it suggests that these people could farm even better, were their hearts, minds and experience to be encouraged in appropriate directions.

  2. Undoubtedly cultivation of poppy and the production of opium demand careful attention to detail: these are definitely not the occupations of feckless and lax farmers.

Where a tradition has developed towards showing interest in certain kinds of livestock - for example, horses and, in some instances, pigs, by the Miao and Yao - some of the Hill Tribes show the interest and ability imperative for successful animal husbandry and production.

Taking these two indications, only, we conclude that there are sound reasons for believing that the Hill Tribes could respond to agricultural extension in respect of both crop and livestock production.

  1. Remembering sympathetically the special circumstances operating against the giving of sufficient detailed attention to the establishment of a satisfactory, practical form of agricultural demonstration and extension, based upon experimentation and research under the ecological and economic conditions existing in the still isolated sub-region inhabited by the Hill Tribes, we are nonetheless compelled to conclude that hitherto this service has not been realistically conceived and applied. This is no criticism of the authorities: the sector involved is far flung and relatively unimportant economically when compared with what is demanded for the remainder of Thai agriculture. We record the conclusion here simply because we believe that the Government is indeed disposed to set a lead in this special form of education, provided it were suitably aided, both technically and financially, in yet another undertaking in national development.

  2. While there are other indications upon which we could base our general conclusion that there is great promise for these people in the realms of more progressive agriculture, we must content ourselves with one further thought which we must express in a more general sense.

It is argued by some that the growers of poppy combine a measure of graceful laziness with a modicum of desiring to grow affluent with the least possible exertion. Our enquiries suggest rather that, while the people do not suffer because of low subsistence - the majority appear to have more than enough to eat - they do desire to have something "more and above" the requirements for maintaining the bread-line. It is unlikely that more than a small proportion win a so-called affluency unless poppy is grown extensively and sold at more than normal values. We have noted that the Gross Domestic Product per capita in Thailand is US $140 (I.B.R.D., 1966). While it is likely that some "Hill" farmers do not attain this average unless they are growers of poppy, it is also likely that those who grow larger amounts have incomes above this average. Despite this local well-being due to poppy production, we believe that the right incentive might attract poppy cultivators to other commodities, were the income from these to be at least as good as that gained from the sale of poppy. The existence of such opportunities coupled with enhanced education as well as agricultural extension and the like would, we believe, be of more than passing interest to the growers of poppy.

The Leader of the team and the Chief of Chiangmai Tribal Centre in an interview with some Hill peoples

Full size image: 147 kB, The Leader of the team and the Chief of Chiangmai Tribal Centre in an interview with some Hill peoples

  1. After having given detailed and most serious imaginative thought to the problem of the finding of substitutes for poppy which would bring anything like a commensurate return, either in the short term or the long, we regretfully conclude that we can suggest nothing immediately encouraging. Our suggestions cover special education, demonstration, surveys, experimentation and the informed trial of certain crops and the giving of more attention to livestock husbandry and production.

We need scarcely draw attention to our further view that there is no single road toward the enhancement of agricultural productivity by the Hill Tribes, nor is there any short cut. The problem is complex and time as well as imagination, patience and adequate funds alone will help its ultimate solution.

With this sympathetic assessment of the agricultural potentiality of the Hill Tribes farmers before us as an encouraging augury for the future, we suggest some directions in which that potentiality might be encouraged:

II. Recommendations

We have concentrated attention upon the possibilities of the production of a few commodities which would contribute to the cash economy of the Hill Tribes. These are commodities of higher value per weight and volume than either subsistence crops or other cash commodities which are or could be grown within the sub-region. Not only are we guided by the ecological and agronomic aspects of production but emphatically also by those of transportation and marketing. Although "feeder" and other roads would undoubtedly be provided in any future development plan for the sub-region, it must take a considerable time before a comprehensive mesh of these could be made and maintained.

It might be objected that we have been complacent regarding the need for more and better subsistence production: actually we cover this in our recommendations about agricultural extension, marketing, credit and the like. More and better food should be grown but again this would require time and its influence upon the replacement of cash presently won through poppy would be both small and long delayed.

A further point might be made that we have not paid attention to the commodities at present grown widely in the sub-region which contribute in varying measure in cash as well as to subsistence, and which surely could be improved in quality and quantity. Examples of these are beans and other legumes (additional to peas which we do note), chili, vegetables and gourds of various kinds, introduced fruits, corn, sorghum, indigenous and other millets, castor and indigenous nuts. We believe that some of these at least would be produced in greater volume and in higher quality as the outcome, in due time, of the services we advocate: extension, demonstration, improvement of roads, marketing and the like.

We attempt, rather, to direct attention to a restricted number of commodities falling within a cash value grouping which might, in time, appreciably raise the income of the people and thus, perhaps, be attractive as substitutes for poppy.

We direct attention, also, to certain requirements such as services and surveys which we believe are fundamental to satisfactory progress in agricultural art, simple science and development in the sub-region.

Our grouping into short- and long-term undertakings is not wholly satisfactory, because in one sense or another each of the commodities, services and surveys could be classified under either of the heads. Our intention is really to note, broadly only, the undertakings which could be put into action within reasonable time in certain respects, contrasted with those which would take much longer.

(a) Short-term

We have noted wherever desirable the need for technical, economic or other assistance in the initial study and period of development of a named commodity. We have also indicated where assistance found to be desirable might be sought in the establishment or expanding of the services and surveys which we stress as being important.


(a) Peas

We are impressed with the quality of some of the "green" or so-called "green, sweet" peas produced by the Hill Tribes, both in the nikhoms [ *] and further afield. We have not been able to check the botanical identity but tentatively think they may be genus Lathyrus, a climbing or twining form. This appears to set an abundance of fairly well-shaped, moderately large, tasty peas.

We understand the peas are in demand both fresh and dried. Where transport by road to larger centres is possible, as at Phetchabun-Loei nikhom, it is said that traders are anxious to buy this product. Figures given us of the estimated income per rai are probably exaggerated but even if the true value were a quarter of that reported, the income would still be remarkably good.

A careful examination of the prospects of demand, pricing and possible expansion of markets is, however, imperative.

With experience so far gained, a capable agronomist, experienced in seed selection and culture, should be able to improve the yield per rai within a few years. Selection, details of fertility requirements, culture, protection against pests and disease and marketing further afield should be given early and special attention by the Department of Agriculture, working in collaboration with the Department of Public Welfare.

Here might well be a commodity which could be developed remarkably within, say, a period of 5 to 10 years. Those farmers who already have shown an aptitude for producing this pea should form the nucleus of a group of practical growers working in close collaboration with the specialists. If need be, a small allocation to further this study should be provided without delay.

(b) Vegetable seed, including "seed" potato (Solanum)

It has been suggested by local officers that the "Hills" are suitable ecologically for the growing of a quality grade of vegetable seed. This might well be true, but this is a highly specialized undertaking and should not be entered into lightly. Not only are there matters of kinds, varieties, production, protection against pest and disease, harvesting and transportation to be considered in detail but, very important, the whole subject of reliable markets within reasonable distance. Although some of the tribesmen appear to be able to raise fair quality vegetables, they would require special demonstration and guidance in raising quality seed. This would demand specialist and experienced attention for some years.

The opium-producing Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand 7

Yao children

Full size image: 103 kB, Yao children

We suggest that seed trade specialists be asked to examine both the technical and the marketing features. The Food and Agriculture Organization, the appropriate United States agencies represented in Thailand or the National Research Corporation might be asked to investigate this as a matter of high priority.

Specialist attention on the spot would be essential for at least a growing season.

Needless to say a successful attempt to produce a sufficiency of vegetable seed of good quality would probably involve the instituting of suitable tarff barriers against imported seed of the same species and variety.

Regarding the production of truly satisfactory so-called "seed" potato, we would emphasize that an officer should be sent to study this subject in Holland, the United States or Australasia. The technique and procedure are not difficult but demand a sound background of scientific knowledge and the capacity to adapt what is known abroad to the local conditions of climate, soil, pests and disease of both the sites of production and the kinds of sites to which the seed would ultimately be sent for multiplication.

(c) Pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium)

Pyrethrum is always in demand even in these days of synthetic insecticides, because of its characteristic of not being a toxin against which biological resistance can be developed. But it is imperative to obtain the most suitable strains for the particular ecological conditions.

A pilot trial might be considered, after consulting an experienced specialist from Kenya, East Africa, where some of the local conditions approach those we have seen in the upper portions of the Hill Evergreen Forest. The ecological setting conducive to good production includes a sufficient and suitably distributed rainfall, the occurrence of sufficiently cold conditions to induce setting of flower buds, a well-drained soil and a reliable dry period for the harvesting of the crop.

Again, the Food and Agriculture Organization might be able to recruit the services of a suitable adviser, preferably from East Africa. He should be able to advise not only on the technical aspects of production but also upon those of harvesting, storage, transportation, and marketing. The simple technique of testing for pyrethrien should present no difficulty.

(d) Virginia or Burley tobacco

We realize that tobacco is the sole interest of the Tobacco Monopoly, moreover, from our knowledge of this crop elsewhere we appreciate how little the Hill Tribes know about the production of it. We suggest, however, that the Monopoly be requested to examine the possibility of conducting a series of trials at, say, a nikhom within easy access of one of its centres. That at Phetchabun might be considered suitable. Demonstration of the whole gamut of establishing the crop, protecting it from pest and disease, harvesting and curing it in a small-scaled tobacco kiln should be organized. Were several suitable, selected Hill farmers to be carefully instructed, it should soon be evident whether they are able to learn the essentials of the art of raising and processing the crop. Indeed lowland Thai farmers show aptitude in tobacco production and there is no reason why "Hill" farmers should not be able to do the same. The tobacco would be grown during part of the rainy season but would be harvested during the dry season and thus would alternate with the crop grown on paddy land in the area.

(e) Tea

Tea has been tried through the ingenuity and activity of a private entrepreneur (at Chiang Dao: in relation to the nikhom and the Lahu living there). We do not know the economic details of this venture but suggest that the subject of the nature and degree of assistance which this is rendering to the Lahu should be exa- mined. Should encouraging indications be shown, the matter of an extension of this kind of project, either at Chiang Dao or elsewhere, should be carefully considered.

Tea is of course indigenous in some sectors of the Hill Evergreen Forest. We have seen sites in this community, between 3,500 and 4,500 feet high, where the climatic and soil conditions are favourable to its systematic production. For imported strains of tea it is possible that the severity and length of the dry season might militate against weight and volume. ( Vide Campbell (1963) for various relevant details.)

It would probably be desirable to send an officer to either Ceylon or India to study tea production in its various aspects, preference being given to regions where conditions approach those occurring in the montane sub-region. In this connexion, it is worth noting that certain portions of Kenya and Malawi experience rainy and dry season changes reminiscent of what we have noted in Thailand.

Pilot "factories" would have to be established and, of course, these should be centrally placed in relation to the producing areas and be on all-weather roads or within easy access thereto.

(f) Coffee

Coffee ( Coffee robusta and to a lesser extent C. arabica) has been tried at several points which we have visited, but we have not seen an example where its management has been in keeping with the ecological conditions of the site.

Thailand is, of course, a coffee importer. Could this country grow a moderate quality robusta type, it could use all of this internally. It is true that the world coffee situation is again in uneasy convulsion, but the petty amount this country could grow in the "Hills" could neither affect nor be affected by the vast dimensions of the world's coffee problems.

Our observations regarding the selection of sites and soils, and the details of establishment, culture, pruning and the like lead us to suggest that a specialist experienced in this crop's requirements should report upon the local conditions, problems and prospects. Guidance in this connexion should be sought from the Food and Agriculture Organization. A Thai officer might be sent, in due course, to work for a period in a coffee-producing country experiencing conditions not unlike those in northern Thailand, for example Kenya.

(g) Livestock husbandry, health and production

Improvement in the quality and quantity of livestock production pre-supposes good, practical extension by livestock husbandry staff and some instruction in the art of simple veterinary medicine at the level at which it could be applied by the farmer.

A further need is some understanding of the elements of the management of "natural" pasturage. This is probably the most difficult practice for animal husbandry specialists to demonstrate: they themselves often know nothing about the principles and details and, in any event, it would take years for the required information to be collected.

The present "management" of secondary succession communities - grasses and shrubs - is so unsatisfactory, that a large number of livestock could not be maintained upon the existing grazing and browsing areas. Overstocking of these would result in loss of animals and in deterioration of the vegetation and the soil.

We suggest that the Department of Animal Husbandry be invited to address itself to the whole subject of livestock husbandry, health and management. This might be attempted through the Experimental Station and its outposts to which we draw attention below. Conversely, it might be more effective, in the first instance, to organize a sound extension and demonstration service, in strategically important centres in the Hills, where the farmers could be taught on the spot the elements of husbandry, veterinary attention and production.

The study of the management of the "wild" pasturage and browse is, however, a much more complex matter. We believe there is no specialist on this subject in the country and we do not know of a country in Southeast Asia which has gained wide and deep experience in this art and science. Unfortunately experience won wholly in the United States and New Zealand is unlikely to be of much direct value. Some knowledge of the problems likely to be encountered is possessed by some workers in Africa and some officers now in Australia, details of which could be provided. The Food and Agriculture Organization would, of course, be able to guide in this respect.

It might be asked why we have not listed perfume plants for short term investigation. We note the observations by Moormann, Anthony and Samarn Panichapong (1964: 14) on essential oils, but our experience is that the prices and markets fluctuate widely. Certain of the suggested species could be grown satisfactorily, following suitable demonstration and extension services but the economy is so uncertain that we could not give priority to this group of plants at this stage. We understand from the Chief United Nations Adviser to the Applied Scientific Research Corporation of Thailand that studies into the economics of production of selected essential oils are planned. Should these return data encouraging to the production of this commodity, we suggest that pilot trials in the Hill Tribes sub-region be considered.

We appreciate the value of the trials upon selection of wheat, suitable for production in the sub-region, being conducted by the Department of Agriculture at Fang and elsewhere. Pilot trials might lead to this commodity being useful for production by Hill Tribes where transportation is no difficulty. We suggest the subject be kept under review.

It is clear that simultaneous attention could not be given effectively to all the commodities upon which we have touched. We suggest, therefore, that priorities might be, thus, seriatim:

Vegetable seed and "seed" potato production; pyrethrum studies and pilot trials; and the possibilities of the Tobacco Monopoly being interested in planned trials of Virginia and Burley tobacco. The other commodities mentioned should be given later attention. *


Services and surveys of the kind we have in mind here could not, of course, produce significant returns in the short-term but should be undertaken without delay, hence our placing them under this head.

Although it is desirable that the subjects discussed below should be studied and put into action as early as possible, it would not be possible to attend to them all simultaneously. We suggest, therefore, the priorities noted below in ( c) (vii) page 14.

(a) Soil survey and land use studies in selected sectors of the sub-region

While we would prefer to combine an ecological survey and study of "swidden" with an investigation of the principal soils thereof, we realize that while the nucleus of an efficient soil survey already exists, there is no equivalent ecological experience.

Some valuable pedological survey has been conducted during the past few years by the Ministry of National Development, working in collaboration with the Department of Soils of the Kasetsart University, the United States Army Engineer, Waterways, Experimental Station (WES) Thailand Detachment and the Soil Specialist of the Food and Agriculture Organization (Dr. F. R. Moormann). The approximately fifty soil survey reports so far published in mimeograph bear testimony to the ability and activity of those responsible for conducting these investigations in field and laboratory and for interpreting and recording the principal results. ( Vide list of Miscellaneous Soil Reports recorded in the paper by Santhad Rojanasoonthon and Moormann, 1966.)

Silk production would be worth considering, were practical instruction and guidance to be provided. The cultivation of sufficient Mulberry (Morus) for food should prove easy. The views of those experienced in this craft should be sought.

Because the Hill Tribes show some competence in the selection of soils for the cultivation of Poppy and other crops (for example, the red brown earths influenced by limestone and basic rocks, for 5 to 10 years and, in some measure for a shorter period, the reddish brown latosols on basalt and andesite), it is desirable to systematize knowledge of the occurrence of these, their capacity and responses to management and mismanagement. A complete survey would be time consuming and difficult to support, whereas one with limited objectives and suitably selective as to precise localities and types of soil could be conducted by a standard team of about six professional and technical workers in several years. Helicopter, camping and other support would be essential because of the ruggedness and isolation of the terrain and the absence of even the roughest of tracks for vehicles.

On the basis of the land use pattern and prescriptions emerging from the survey, it should be feasible to train and concentrate the efforts of the agricultural extension service to guide and demonstrate to the farmers the agronomic and related information vital to the progressive development of crop and livestock husbandry and production.

We suggest that FAO be invited to advise on this matter should it be decided to undertake a selective survey of this kind.

Specialists in ecology do not exist at present in Thailand, with the notable exception of Mr. Tem Smitinand, Forest Botanist, Royal Forest Department. Mr. Smitinand's guidance, from time to time, during the soil survey and mapping, could be most useful in providing information about the stages of "swidden" in relation to land use, erodibility and related matters. If there could be attached to the team, from time to time, either interested members of the staff or postgraduate students of biology and agriculture of Chiangmai University, further aid would be forthcoming and the personnel should learn much to their own professional interest and advancement.

It is feasible that for certain aspects of a study of this nature the applied Scientific Research Corporation and perhaps an American Agency, Foundation or University might be prepared to make financial subvention.

We have heard of the ecological and soil survey being conducted through the United States Army and Air Force and the Royal Forest Department with the FAO Soil Specialist collaborating. Surely some experience and assistance should be forthcoming from these sources.

Irish potato crops at the Fang Agricultural Experimental Station

Full size image: 136 kB, Irish potato crops at the Fang Agricultural Experimental Station

(b) Ecological-agricultural investigation of the problems and potentialities of "swidden" (" tham rai ") in its principal forms and stages

It is agriculturally and economically desirable that the principal communities resulting from the disturbance of the Hill Evergreen Forest of several more widely spread ecotypes and of portions of the Upper (Moist) Mixed Deciduous Forest in their secondary successional communities should be defined in scientific and practical terms, so as to throw light upon their ecological and economic significance.

We suggest that "swidden" farming should be accepted as being the likely prevailing practice in the montane sub-region for many years to come. Accordingly it is incumbent upon the Government's advisers and executive professional staff to know something about the scientific and agricultural implications of these communities. We have seen some widely represented communities which offer slight if any problem in their removal for cultivation, whereas others, such as those of Imperata cylindrica (alang alang) and Saccharum spontaneum certainly present complex problems in control and usage of the land they occupy, remembering the primitive procedure and technique adopted by the local farmers.

We advocate the recruitment of a senior, widely experienced, imaginative and practically minded ecologist or agriculturist capable of thinking ecologically, to examine this problem for a period of say two years. He should be understudied by a selected Thai officer, with an ecological and yet practical flair. This kind of foreign adviser is rare but we would be prepared to suggest ways and means of attracting one or another appropriately qualified individual known to us.

The subvention of funds for this undertaking, this appointment and the associated support might well be met in part from either international or bilateral financial assistance.

The information should be passed to the extension service, for its careful consideration and critical application in its advisory and demonstration activities.

We discuss elsewhere the broadening of the professional disciplines and experience of the Hill Tribes Research Centre through the discipline of agriculture. The person appointed in this connexion should, of course, work in close contact with those examining the problems and prospects in the several "swidden" communities selected for study.

(c) Agricultural experimentation, extension and related facilities and services

  1. Agricultural experimentation

Apart from the Department of Agriculture Experiment Station at the nikhom at Doi Musser (830 m. - about 2,700 feet), in the Upper (Moist) Mixed Deciduous Forest and Hill Evergreen Forest transition, we have heard of no other centre, falling under this Department, which is suitably set for investigating aspects of agronomy and crop production at the higher elevations. The same Department's Experiment Station at Fang (at say 600 m.-1,970 feet), although not in montane setting, does give attention to wheat, legumes, fruit trees, potato (Solanum) and coffee in relation to their production by the Hill Tribes. The Department's potato (Solanum) trials, in relation to " seed " potato studies in the montane sub-region adjacent, are based here.

The Survey Team inspecting Irish potato and pea crops grown by the tribesmen

Full size image: 167 kB, The Survey Team inspecting Irish potato and pea crops grown by the tribesmen

The Department of Public Welfare supports some simple trials of various kinds at its stations at Phetchabun (1,200 m. - about 3,900 feet) and Mae Chan (460 m. - about 1,500 feet), but these trials cannot be considered as field experimentation in the true sense.

Reviewing our observations at these centres and sympathetically considering the difficulty of local circumstances and conditions, we believe comparatively little has emerged of direct value to the farmers of the montane sub-region. Among the exceptions to this generalization would be the trial of over 600 varieties of wheat and potato (Solanum) and fruit trees at Fang. We have already commented upon the unsatisfactory nature of the trials of coffee at the centres visited.

Because of this general lack of satisfactory scientific experimentation - doubtless due to shortage of funds, trained staff and working facilities - we suggest that thought be given to the selection of an agricultural experimental station capable of a realistic attack upon the principal scientific, technical and the related economic problems of montane sub-region cultivation. Because it is imperative that livestock be increasingly integrated into the agricultural activity of Hill Tribes farmers, it is important that this station should also attend to the animal factor. This would seem to be possible through suitable administrative and professional arrangements between the Departments of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. It is further desirable that several " out stations " of a simpler kind should be linked with the central station so as to test crops and practices at the appropriate elevations.

We do not describe the details of objectives, organization, staffing and the like, but we suggest that among the prime objectives the following should figure prominently:

  1. The testing of all aspects of the crops we have mentioned, together with any others which the Government's professional advisers may suggest . . . and we imply testing in a scientific and, later, practical manner; (ii) Examining the principal problems in the fertility and the general productivity of the more important soils with the purpose of defining their fertilizer requirements and how best to overcome any marked physical characteristics which might be found to militate against their conservation and improvement; (iii) the working out of details of how best to work the main " swidden " soils under particular stages of secondary succession, based upon the co-ordinated findings of the ecologist-agriculturist whom we have mentioned under (b) above; (iv) selection of the varieties of crops best suited to the montane sub-region; (v) applying the basic details of livestock husbandry, health and production, suitably integrated with crop husbandry and production and simple management of the local pasturage and browse; and (vi) determining the elements of improvement of " rough " pasturage and browse by methods well within the scope and working facilities available to the Hill farmer.

  1. Agricultural education and extension

At present there is virtually no agricultural education and extension, except local and elementary information passed on to farmers in the several nikhoms and, more especially, at Phetchabun and Doi Musser. We do not criticize this because there are sundry circumstances and conditions militating against a more effective service, but we stress that there should be an early intensification of effort at a much higher standard. Again we cannot go into details: we suggest that the more recent and practicable approaches to education, demonstration and extension should be examined and suitably adapted to the local requirements, to the staff and according to the supporting facilities.

Guidance at the higher level is of course essential but it is imperative that instruction and demonstration should be taken into the fields worked by the Hill Tribes farmers through simple, practical members of the staff resident within the locality.

This is so potentially significant a stimulus toward enlightened farming that we suggest that special advice be sought so that the best possible approaches could be made under the existing circumstances. But we must emphasize that senior men, with ability, detailed knowledge and a sense of duty, must be prepared to visit the Agricultural Experimental Station and its field posts and should also work from time to time in the sub-region, with the junior staff responsible for taking the message to the farming community.

No amount of money, no matter how elaborate a research programme is steadfastly carried out, no matter the quality of the instruction and discipline given to the extension staff, all will certainly fail to produce a satisfactory acceptance by and response from the Hills farmers if the work itself is not bedded down in realism, practical objectives and achievement.

Advice and practical guidance might be sought from international and national sources, but care must be exercised that it is itself based on experience with farmers of the simple quality now living in the montane sub-region. We speak clearly on this, because there are so many examples of highly pitched education and extension projects failing to capture the heart and the mind of the farmer, simply because they have been impracticable in their policy and application.

The following would be among the details which probably would demand the most critical study and careful demonstration in practice: maintenance of the fertility and the desired physical characteristics of the principal types of soil within the " swidden " communities; the spreading of information about the better yielding and yet more resistant varieties of the commoner subsistence and cash crops; elements of practice regarding the establishment, cultivating and the protection of crops against pests and disease; improved methods of harvesting and storage, including the control of pests and disease causing heavy losses in stored products and current information regarding probable demand and marketing of specific commodities.

  1. Community development in relation to agricultural extension

We understand that some attention is being given to aspects of community development, with the purpose of determining what the " felt needs " of the Hill Tribes may be and exploring the possibilities of encouraging and assisting these. From what we have learned, the results have so far been somewhat mixed: perhaps on the whole rather less encouraging than would have been desirable. Whether this be true indeed and, if so, whether the reasons lie in both the approaches and the people, we cannot say. Our experience elsewhere is that community development is frequently slow and even very slow in making progress, particularly among people who, for any reason, are not wholly certain of their inherent rights and privileges to land, to the usufruct of the local forests and their political security. It might be that none of these operate locally, but it would be worth determining whether this be so. Again, language is a barrier; Thai staff not fluent in the local tongue might well not be acceptable. Even more so, devoted and capable foreign specialists in community development would be even less likely to be accepted.

We suggest that an effort be made to inculcate in the minds and beliefs of the agricultural extension staff that the general principles of the community development approaches are worthy of their careful consideration and loyal, attempted application.

From the multiple-purpose community development agent we do not expect very much, in a practical sense; he has little or nothing to give. He should rather be steeped in some required knowledge and discipline, be it cultivation, livestock, health of man or beast, elementary development of water and the like. We throw this out for study by those responsible for community development in all of its aspects and, very particularly, by the Departments of Public Welfare and Agriculture.

  1. Agricultural credit

It appears that hitherto this form of service has not been applied to the Hill Tribes, probably because of their remote setting and the very simple nature of their farming operations. As changes are brought about in opening the country by means of roads, social and other services and the stimulating of local markets as well as of those further afield, and in encouraging agricultural production and community development for the achieving of " felt needs ", there will be a need for assisting the endeavours of those farmers showing a sustained effort to farm more efficiently.

This would imply the need for a carefully administered system of credit, for the purchase of materials (seeds, fertilizers and pesticides), special items (tools, simple equipment and livestock of improved kind), required for progressive farming. It is desirable that this be given careful thought well ahead of the time when the demands will be presented.

It might be argued that credit could be given only through co-operatives, but this need not be so in the earlier years. It is also said that credit is best granted when the farmer has individual tenure of his land. While it is, of course, advantageous and simpler if this is so, we know of many examples where credit is administered to farmers who work land to which they have no legal or other individual right. A workable form of control for repayment is through a recognized local committee or headman and, may be, also a lien on part of the income from sales of crops and livestock. We cannot pretend to suggest how this thought might be applied to the Hill Tribes, who we understand have little in the way of traditionally constituted local authority. We can only say that we hope prospects of credit will be examined.

  1. Land tenure

We have expressed a thought regarding the possibility of tenure being granted to the Hill Tribes under certain, specific conditions relative to the eschewing of growing of poppy or otherwise participating in making and trafficking in opium. We hope this may appear to be worth examining, because tenure could contribute to greater sense of security and also to better farming. We are not emphatic believers that individual tenure is by any means fundamental to the developing of a sense and a practice of better farming, but we believe that some form of group or village tenure could be a useful encouragement to these ends, under certain circumstances.

  1. Roads and marketing

We link the necessity for examining the subjects of transportation and marketing concurrently, because, except in very restricted measure, there is unlikely to be a surge in production unless both the means for extraction and the facilities for marketing exist.

  1. Roads

Although " feeder " roads are important in the developing of a meshwork of communications in isolated areas, these are of little consequence unless linked, in turn, with good service roads of higher standard. Remarkable stimulus to production has resulted in some countries where suitable " feeder " and related roads were put into terrain previously without the one, the other, or both of these kinds of communication, but deterioration in " dirt " roads and consequent falling off, temporarily at least, in production occurs where the maintenance and repair of " feeder " and other crude roads have been neglected. For this reason the need for these services must be borne constantly in mind.

It is probably unnecessary for the whole of the montane sub-region to be opened by means of roads - at least not for some considerable time - and in any case there are certainly higher priorities in this regard for the country as a whole. We suggest, therefore, that those sectors be selected which the Government considers to be the most desirable to make accessible, for whatever reason, and that an estimate be drawn of the costs likely to be involved.

It is feasible that the selection could combine strategic, security and economic objectives, all of which might appeal to Thailand's political allies who might, for this very reason, be prepared to assist either toward the part payment of the construction or toward such equipment and materials as may be required for the higher order of roads.

  1. Marketing

As marketing is so widely embracing a term we limit our meaning here to the examination of both the nearer and the further internal markets for particular classes of commodity which the Hill Tribes might be able to produce. Regarding items for export - and these would be restricted in the first instance we think to pyrethrum and, later, might include vegetable seed of high quality - experience would surely be gained down the years which would be taken to develop a sufficiency of a specific commodity. No intensive, large scale study is, therefore, suggested but rather a forward-looking and up-to-date examination of the problems and the potentialities of disposing of products which the Government might be willing to encourage the Hill Tribes farmers to concentrate upon. We have already noted that the marketing of green and dried peas should be examined.

An Akha village nestles in the mountains

Full size image: 141 kB, An Akha village nestles in the mountains

  1. Suggested priorities

We believe that the services to which we refer above should be given as high a priority as may be possible throughout. Because it is unlikely that this would be practicable, we suggest the following sequence, seriatim:

Soil survey and land use studies in selected sectors; agricultural experimentation, education and extension; investigation of the problems and potentialities of " swidden " (" tham rai "); roads and marketing.

Should the Government consider some form of group tenure feasible, this together with the linked subject of credit would deserve the highest priority.

(b) Long-term


(a) Continuation of propositions successful in the short term

It goes without saying that should any or all of the commodities listed for attention during the short term - green peas, vegetable seeds, " seed " potato ( Solanum), pyrethrum and Virginia or Burley tobacco at strategically suitable points relative to the monopoly's interests, tea and coffee - appear to be particularly suitable, further study and development of these would be imperative in the long term.

  1. Possible propositions requiring a lengthy period for examination, putting into pilot operation and into phased development

  1. Forestry

  1. Pulping of Pinus insularis Endl. (P. khasya) andP. merkusii at carefully selected locations where materials, labour and other requirements are most suitably brought together with the most suitable and least expensive transportation

The Government should have at its disposal shortly a report upon the pulping potentialities of the two indigenous species of Pinus (P. insularis Endl ., P. khasya and P. merkusii Jungh.) which occur - either pure or mixed one with the other and also mixed with certain hardwood species - in portions of the Hill Tribes sub-region. This investigation, conducted by means of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project, in which forest utilization authorities sponsored by FAO collaborated with the Royal Forest Department, might well indicate the economic potentialities of pulping these species. It is feasible that this could bring employment to the Hill Tribes living within easy access of both pulping plants and the stands of indigenous trees which are to be exploited.

  1. Industrial plantations

We are impressed with the still admittedly very young stands of Pinus insularis established on secondary forest sites at Bo Luang, Chiangmai Province, through the co-operation of the Royal Forest Department and USOM. The increment appears to be encouraging to date, despite the comparative poverty and poor physical characteristics of the soils of the area. Should a range in material be required, it is feasible that bamboo and other indigenous species might be available in sufficient quantity within reasonable distance of the pulping plants. The growth of several species of Eucalyptus (notably of E. saligna (grandis) and E. paniculata) appears to be very fair at this early stage, but these exotics must be tested on a pulp rotation basis before a definite conclusion could be drawn. The rapid growth and the technical qualities of these and other species of Eucalyptus in Southern and Central Africa, under somewhat similar bio-climatic conditions, augur well for their success at Bo Luang and on similar situations unsuitable for agriculture in the montane sub-region.

We understand that the Royal Forest Department is examining the possibilities of establishing indigenous pines and, perhaps, also other fast growing species, such as the indigenous Birch ( Betula alnoides) and Gmelina arborea and the exotic Eucalyptus and Populus (e.g. P. deltoides x P. nigraex Italy) on a large scale at Bo Luang for pulping during the next twenty years. Should the thought of establishing 150 square kilometres materialize, this could mean employment of Hill Tribes at all stages of the proposition: from the local preparation of the site right through to the pulping stages.

In addition to the possible economic importance of the proposition, the good that might emerge for the socio-economy of the people might be considerable. For this reason the views of certain international bodies might be worth obtaining: for example that of the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank.

  1. Research centre for fast-growing species in the Hills

This, of course, presupposes the collection of data upon which a steadily improved technique in establishment and silviculture could be based, both in the indigenous forests and in such areas it is desired to plant to extensive stands of trees. While there is sufficient evidence already available to justify a beginning in the management of the indigenous stands and in the establishing of planted stands, it is clear that more accurate scientific, economic and related data are required. It is desirable, therefore, that a Hill forestry research centre, focussing attention upon fast-growing species (indigenous and exotic) in the Hills should be established.

Such a centre, which might well be at Bo Luang or Bo Kaeo, in the Province of Chiangmai, should undertake studies embracing the following:

Establishment of indigenous pines and other fast-growing species of the kinds we have already mentioned in (b) above - a follow-up of the survey made of pulping materials by FAO (UNDP Project) recently; study of the silviculture, genetics and soil requirements of the species named and of the effect of fire upon the trees and the soil; the training of Hill Tribes personnel as forest guards, for service in the sub-region (one guard per about 50 square kilometres).

Again, the creation and running of a centre of this kind might require both technical and financial assistance either from international or other sources.

  1. Breeding in practical numbers of improved livestock for purposes of a more intensive programme

The art and science of livestock selection, breeding and feeding are likely to be advanced to a limited extent only in the short-term because these are naturally long-term disciplines. Moreover, while advances might well be shown during the short-term, it would require many years of consistent policy and practice to establish particularly encouraging strains and to raise these in appreciable numbers. It is, therefore, essential that indications observed during the preliminary period should be followed up as long-term objectives. This is particularly true of cattle which under the conditions prevailing in the montane sub-region, take upwards of five to more years to mature. Milk production is also a very slow process to develop under existing conditions, both ecological and human. It would also take time to breed pigs of the type likely to return the best yields under the conditions they would be given, even by the best farmers in the Hill Tribes villages.

There is no " royal road " to progress in animal husbandry and production even under the most advanced conditions of management by skilled farmers: this must be remembered throughout in the planning of programmes for development for comparatively simple farmers in an environment presenting a number of health, feeding and related problems.

  1. Improvement of natural pasturage and browse and possible establishment of better pastures

Among the slowest of communities to improve are natural or man-influenced pasturage and browse in the tropics and sub-tropics. There is abundance of evidence to support this statement - which does not imply, of course, that the task should be put aside as hopeless. It is imperative to understand, however, that it may take upwards of several decades to convert a " rough and wild " pasturage and browse to one responding to scientific and practical management of an economic nature.

Typical houses of Black Lahu tribesmen at Doi Chiang Dao Settlement, Chiangmai

Full size image: 161 kB, Typical houses of Black Lahu tribesmen at Doi Chiang Dao Settlement, Chiangmai

Investigations in the short-term by skilled practitioners of the management of secondary succession pasturage and browse might give clues to lines of investigation and trial worth following in the longer term. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that consideration be given to several such long-term projects, so that there could be some likelihood of information being made available in the course of the next ten to twenty years.

Initial and, for a time, continuing scientific, technical and managerial guidance will be necessary for the successful launching of investigations of this kind. As special kinds of experience are essential, we suggest that the appropriate sector of the Food and Agriculture Organization be consulted regarding the finding of a person of the requisite education, training, experience and approach to guide this really complex study. Suitable Thai nationals should be selected for understudying the foreign adviser. Moreover, there must be frequent opportunity for the progress of the studies and trials to be reviewed by experienced observers.

Obviously the control and replacement of Imperata and Saccharum spontaneum are intimately involved in the long-term investigation of certain types of man-induced " rough and wild " pasturage and browse.

  1. Home industries

We are favourably impressed with the ability shown by the Hill Tribes in their home industries such as the working of silver, the weaving of cloth and the embroidering of garments. Some of their work is certainly of high quality and is eagerly sought by visitors to Chiangmai and in other centres where articles are obtainable.

We understand that several official and other agencies are engaged in furthering these kinds of home industries and in encouraging wider marketing facilities. This is all to the good and might, in the course of time, produce results. At present a proportion of the attractive silverware produced is kept within the family as a form of investment or insurance.

Were co-ordinated, sustained and imaginative support - through training, organizing of markets and the like - to be given, it is feasible that a steadily increasing return could be won by both men and women.


It is scarcely necessary to observe that the agricultural education and extension, community development, credit and other services, which we trust would be established during the short-term, must be continued during the ensuing years. Indeed it is only through the experience yielded by time that more efficient services of this nature have been developed in those countries where they are the most successful in action.

(c) Concluding remarks regarding recommendations both short- and long-term

We have outlined a number of directions in which the Government, both alone and with the co-operation and the aid of international and other agencies, might consider aiding the Hill Tribes in their agricultural production. As the attention required would be considerable even within the relatively small sub-region involved, we suggest that a workable series of priorities should be prepared.


We make the following recommendations on these matters:

  1. The Government, through its various agencies and in particular the Central Bureau of Narcotics should press forward its anti-narcotics activities in the Hill Tribes area, particularly in connexion with the clandestine manufacture of and illicit traffic in the various dangerous derivatives of opium. In conjunction it should consider launching an educational campaign against the smoking of opium and cultivation of poppy by the Hill Tribes by radio broadcasts (if possible in the tribal languages), exhibits in development centres, posters in schools and documentary films.

Typical Lisu houses

Full size image: 134 kB, Typical Lisu houses

We have elsewhere recorded the thought that farmers prepared to co-operate in the undertaking of activities likely to lead to the substitution of other commodities for poppy might be given some form of assistance, either in kind or monetary. It might be found feasible to grant such producers a higher priority in a number of technical and other forms of extension and aid, provided there were a sufficiency of individuals within a general area.

It might also be practicable to base a phased programme of activity according to the showing of the soil survey and land use studies in selected sectors. ( Vi de II (a) (2) above; page 9.)

  1. Consideration should be given to providing, in consultation with WHO, treatment for Hill Tribes opium addicts in the north of the country.

  2. The Government should determine a definite period of time after which opium cultivation will be brought to an end in accordance with the various Opium Acts. During this period it could well take steps progressively each year to eliminate poppy growing in a specified area, whether by subsidies to growers when a substitute crop is not immediately practicable or by energetic enforcement measures. In such areas where, in the first instance, mobile teams are active and civic action development centres or nikhoms are established, subsidies in the form of food and consumer goods could be given to the households of each village which customarily grows poppy but would be willing to give it up. Offering villages in opium-growing localities some suitable form of land tenure, providing the land is not used for opium, might be effective. Control could be exercised by aerial survey of the environs of the villages.

18 Bulletin on Narcotics, Vol. XXI, No. 1, January-March 1969

  1. The BPP Civic Action Development programme should be strongly supported as a prime means of accomplishing the eventual cessation of poppy cultivation in areas under its jurisdiction.

  2. More effective measures, by the Provincial Police, against the cultivation of poppy in other areas of the hills where security considerations are less important should be undertaken.

  3. When circumstances warrant, the Government should consider a solution of the problem created by the armed bands on the northern border.

  4. The Government should continue to press for border agreements with the governments of Laos and Burma, which would include also exchange of information on the illicit traffic in narcotics within and across their boundaries.

  5. The Government should continue to collect information bearing upon the demography of the Hill Tribes and the areas cultivated for poppy. We understand that the National Statistical Office will study further the data collected in the 1965-66 Survey and thus be able to provide more detailed information on both of these subjects. An opportunity for a more precise survey should present itself when the Census of 1970 is planned.

  6. In view of the importance of narcotics control for Thailand and Southeast Asia, in general, the Government should consider closer participation in the work of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, including full membership and voting rights.


I. Establishment of a Hill Tribes agency

In order to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure a consistent policy towards the Hill Tribes, it is recommended that the present agencies concerned with hill tribe development and welfare work be combined in a single agency, or at least brought under a central direction with supervisory powers.

The existing situation, the arguments for a central agency and the possible form this agency may take are discussed in the following paragraphs. Separate consideration is given to the problem of the Tribal Research Centre.

(a) The existing situation

The last six years have seen a rapid increase in Governmental interest in the Hill Tribes. Several Government departments - notably Education, Agriculture and Health - have extended their normal services to tribal areas. Two other departments have developed special Hill Tribes development programmes. These departments are the Police Department and the Department of Public Welfare. The activities of each are now reviewed.

  1. The work of the Border Patrol Police

We are concerned now with an analysis of the work of the Border Patrol Police. This division has as its primary responsibility the security of all the frontier regions of Thailand. Over the last ten years, as a result of its appreciation of the fact that security is best ensured by a contented and co-operative population, it has conceived its task as not simply to police the area but also to secure the " hearts and minds " of the people by the active promotion of their welfare. The policy adopted is excellently expressed in a recent article by Police Major-General Surapon Chulabrahm, Assistant Commanding-General of the Border Patrol Police:

" The Border Patrol Police are a 6,000 man unit stretched thin along Thailand's long, often desolate, frontiers with four countries. Their charter is the security of the border, one which far exceeds anything the Police themselves could accomplish. Success must mean the loyalty and full co-operation of the people who inhabit the area and the Hill Tribes programme was designed with that objective in mind - to ensure the safety of Thailand by obtaining and maintaining the loyalty of the minorities who live along the mountain ridges. "

We are greatly impressed by the dedication to their task of the members of the Border Patrol Police, their faith in their aims, their energy, their sympathy for the tribal people and the general wisdom of their approach to their difficult tasks. We gained the impression of a force with high morale and excellent organization.

Undoubtedly the morale of the Force - and also the welfare of the tribal peoples - greatly benefits from the close interest taken in the Border Patrol Police by members of the Royal Family. The King and Queen have personally established schools and the Princess Mother has frequently visited its outposts in remote tribal villages. The Border Patrol Police has also another asset. It appears to have attracted into its top leadership extremely clever and efficient men whose influence flows down to the ordinary ranks.

An advantage of great practical consequence to the Border Patrol Police is that it is not entirely dependent, as many other Government organizations are, on Thailand's own revenues dispersed by customary channels through the Thailand Treasury. Although the Border Patrol Police is financed in large part by the Government, it also receives considerable support through the United States Aid Programme. This situation is of immediate advantage to the Border Patrol Police in two ways:

  1. It has the money to finance an extensive programme in the hills, including the provision of such expensive items as air communications.

  2. It can utilize some of its funds much more quickly and efficiently than can Government departments which are obliged to conform to customary budgetary practices. Thus it can adapt its activities much more quickly to variations of need. To give an example: if the Border Patrol Police decides that a school is needed in a particular village, it appears able to get it built quickly, to staff it and to pay the staff regularly. Other departments may sometimes experience greater delay in obtaining funds, get less and have to disburse them by complicated procedures, which may, for instance, mean closing the school for several days monthly while the teacher journeys to collect his pay.

But although it is of immediate advantage, the partial dependence of the Border Patrol Police on foreign funds also brings potential problems. Reference is made to these problems later.

Of all the agencies working in the tribal areas the Border Patrol Police has the most distinguished record. The question may therefore be asked: should not the whole of the Hill Tribes development and welfare work be entrusted to the Force? This is a highly important policy question which we should discuss.

The more positively helpful a Police force can be to people while discharging its primary police function the better it is, of course, for itself and for everyone concerned. The Border Patrol Police will always continue to promote welfare whenever possible. But is it desirable that it should permanently be the main welfare and developement agency in the hill?

The arguments against such a permanent combination are:

  1. The inherent difficulty of combining compulsion and persuasion. The policeman has the power to compel; the welfare worker must persuade, and avoid the appearance of compulsion, if he is to develop local self-reliance and local leadership. At present the Border Patrol Police avoid the potential conflict of roles by concentrating on persuasion. But in different circumstances they may be compelled to adopt a stronger disciplinary function and the present combination of roles may prove disadvantageous to each of them.

  1. The welfare and development programme involves considerable cost to the Police Department and this cost will increase as the programme expands. The Department is able to sustain the cost partially because of foreign aid. But the aid, at least in this form, is given because of the strategic importance of the area. If the threats of armed incursion, terrorist infiltration or political subversion in the border areas diminish, the aid may not be so generously forthcoming. A strong case therefore could be made out for the early creation of a separate welfare and development agency differently financed.

  2. The combination of welfare work and police powers in a single agency in tribal areas - and in the case of villages perhaps their combination in a single person - does involve a risk of corruption. This is not a serious danger at present, because of the particularly high standard of conduct in the Border Patrol Police and the guidance the senior officers exercise over their men. But in different circumstances the risk could increase. The existence of the risk suggests the need for a separate civilian agency which would counter-balance the police agency, each providing a healthy check on the other. Each would also serve the other, the one providing security and the other promoting economic and social development.

The changed circumstances which we are envisaging in the above discussion are circumstances in which the political security threat to Thailand has vanished or, at least, become greatly diminished. We are concerned with the problem of opium production. Opium has been produced within this general area for probably at least a hundred years. It is optimistic to think that it will be entirely eliminated within the next fifty years, because of the difficulties of terrain and the other factors already referred to in this Report. Therefore the problem of opium is likely to be of longer duration than the current problems of political security.

The Border Patrol Police have naturally been obliged to occupy themselves in these present years mostly with political security. But in the future, especially if the security threat recedes, greater attention may be paid to opium production and traffic. For a time at least this will involve the Border Patrol Police in a stronger policing role. The respect which they have gained from the tribes people over many years will be a great asset and there is little reason to suppose that any real disharmony between them and the tribes people will arise. But the situation will be simpler for both parties and the risk of corruption eliminated, if the main welfare agency and the policing agency are separate and able to counterbalance each other at the same time as they assist each other's operations.

In making the recommendation for a separate and single Hill Tribes agency we are considering the future. Hitherto a remarkable record has been achieved by the Border Patrol Police. It has carried out the pioneering work. In the future, in areas still to be opened up for development, the pioneering should still fall to it. It is impossible to initiate development measures without first establishing security. Moreover protection must continue to be given to welfare and development workers. Police and development officers are therefore a necessary complement to one another. But once an area is fully secure we feel it is important that the development work should pass to a non-police agency. We repeat the reasons why we believe that it is important: it will keep development plans in accord with the national economy; it will provide a civilian counterbalance to the para-military police force; it will be able to operate through the entirely voluntary support of the local population and to draw upon the full range of civilian skills and enterprise.

This recommendation is completely in accord with the thinking of the the High Command of the Border Patrol Police itself. It is the expressed intention of the Force that, once firmly established, all development projects should be turned over to appropriate civilian agencies. Already a number of schools have been passed over to the Department of Education.

There is thus no conflict between our recommendation and the plans of the Border Patrol Police. What is new in our recommendation is that the work should pass, not to a number of different organizations, but to a single organization which would ensure the maximum economy and the greatest unity of effort. We express the hope that the new agency would be able to draw some of its senior personnel from the ranks of the Border Patrol Police, which has unique experience and brilliant talents.

  1. The work of the Department of Public Welfare

We have great admiration for the achievements of the Department of Public Welfare in the comparatively few years in which it has been working in this field. It has many dedicated officers who are doing their utmost to advance the welfare of the Hill Tribes. Such limitations to its work as the Department experiences are not due to lack of enterprise or ability on the part of its staff, but are the results of organizational problems and financial stringency.

Generally the activities of the Department have been less extensive than those of the Border Patrol Police division. There has, for instance, been comparatively little enlistment of tribal people in its services and, apart from instruction given to the villagers by the mobile teams, not much attempt to train leaders and develop local government. This situation contrasts with that of the Border Patrol Police, who invite headmen to courses and train tribes people as development workers, and, when they are trained, pay them for their work. But although it has been limited in scope, very much of the work of the Hill Tribes Division of the Department of Public Welfare is excellent.

The limitations of the work are almost certainly due to the position of the Hill Tribes Division in the civil service structure. It is a sub-section of the Land Settlement Bureau, which is a sub-section of the Ministry of the Interior. The Head of the Division is thus at the fourth level of sub-division. This does not allow him to be of very high rank or status in the civil service. The Superintendents of the Settlements and of the Welfare and Development Centre are at the fifth level of sub-division. So too, theoretically, is the Director of the Tribal Research Centre but, since it would be impossible for a person of such " juniority " to direct a complicated research programme, the position is at present filled by a man of the same rank as the Head of the Hill Tribes Division.

The comparatively junior position of the Head of the Hill Tribes Division does not allow him the initiative and flexibility which the directing of such a major project requires.

The low position of the present Hill Tribes Division in the Governmental structure has also other consequences:

  1. It multiplies the budgetary problem. The greatest advantage the Border Patrol Police appears to have over other Government departments is its partial access to special funds and the rapidity with which it can authorize expenditure. Procedures in other Government departments, or the procedures which they themselves must follow to obtain their funds from the Treasury, are highly complicated. These complications become an increasing impediment the lower down in a hierarchy an organization is. We found an instance in which a tractor at a Settlement could not be used to carry out urgently needed road maintenance because money for the fuel had not yet been approved, although there was no doubt that it would be in due course of time. It seems that a greater degree of financial responsibility should be accorded to persons directing field operations if efficiency and the most profitable use of funds is to be achieved. Under the present system of Government financing this would seem possible only if the organization dealing with the Hill Tribes and the persons directing it were raised in status.

An aerial view of a Hill Tribes village

Full size image: 161 kB, An aerial view of a Hill Tribes village

  1. Because the Hill Tribes Division is low in status it has to obtain approval for its actions often from a hierarchy of senior sections above. It must report its actions in the same manner. This slows down its operations and also results in a large proportion of its staff being engaged in purely administrative and largely clerical activities.

  2. There is not sufficient scope in the present Hill Tribes Division for talented persons to make a career. Work in the hills is difficult, both physically and intellectually. The person must be able to adapt to cultural ways very different from those to which he has become accustomed. It is necessary, therefore, to attract to the service young men of energy, high intelligence and, for some tasks of superior academic attainments. They will be attracted only if the positions are regarded as worthwhile and offer scope for advancement.

The conclusion we reach is that the present Hill Tribes Division is too low in status to be able to carry out fully all the duties imposed upon it.

3. The work of certain other Government agencies

The most serious problem faced by the Ministries of Education is that of recruiting and holding good staff for the hill areas. In the case of the Department of Public Welfare we suggested that the difficulties of the Hill Tribes Division lay in its low status in the hierarchy - that is to say, in its height from the top. In the case of the other Government departments now being considered the difficulty faced by members of their staffs working in tribal areas is their distance from the centre. They are in remote places. If they are ambitious - and the ablest graduates are naturally ambitious - they do not like to go away from the centre because, under the existing organization of Hill Tribes work, their only opportunity for career advancement lies at the centre. If they do go away, they are in danger of being forgotten.

It does unfortunately appear to be true that in the instance of the Government agencies mentioned, as well as in the Department of Public Welfare, officials operating in the Hill Tribes areas stand poorer chances of promotion and salary increase than their contemporaries in the departments in Bangkok. Yet their jobs, if done properly, are harder and more uncomfortable and frequently require superior ability.

Morale in the Border Patrol Police appears much higher than in the other departments. This higher morale means increased efficiency and increased benefit to the Hill Tribes. The Border Patrol Police, however, is a para-military organization the primary responsibility of which must be security. It has never envisaged itself as assuming permanent responsibility for the socioeconomic development and government of the Hill Tribes, and we have already adduced arguments as to why is should not be expected to do so.

These tasks should be the responsibility of a separate civilian agency. We have given reasons why we believe that the present diverse control by a number of departments is unsatisfactory. We have also argued that the present Hill Tribes Division of the Department of Public Welfare is too low in status to be able to fill the role of such an agency.

We recommend that a separate agency or department be created. The size of the tribal area concerned, its peculiar problems in respect to both security and opium production, and its population justify the creation of an organization of departmental status.

(b) The characteristics of a Hill Tribes agency

The nucleus of such an agency already exists in the Hill Tribes Division, in sections or individual persons in other Government departments, and in the Border Patrol Police.

The precise structure of the agency would require detailed planning and we should not be justified, with our limited knowledge of conditions in Thailand, in attempting to advise upon it. But we may suggest, in the light of the previous discussion, certain features which the agency might have:

  1. To ensure flexibility and speed of operation it should be closely related to the fountains of political power in Thailand. There would seem to be advantages in placing it directly under the Prime Minister. On the other hand, as it may draw some of its personnel from the Border Patrol Police and as it would, in certain areas, have to rely on the Border Patrol Police to give its officers the necessary security, there could be advantages in placing it in the Ministry of Interior. But, wherever it is, it should have easy access to decision-makers in the Government.

  2. A person of the highest possible standing, ability and qualifications should be selected as head of the agency.

  3. The agency should have sections dealing with social development, education, agriculture and health. The heads of these sections should be professional persons, senior in rank although not in age. Junior positions should allow scope for promotion, and the general attitude of the Government to the agency should be to treat it as a corps d'élite with special privileges because of the difficulty of its work in remote areas. The agency should aim initially for quality in its staff rather than large numbers. In fact it should be careful not to make its permanent Thai staff too large because its ultimate success will depend upon how well it recruits local tribes people into its service as teachers, health workers, agricultural instructors and village leaders.

The situation of professional persons - doctors, agriculturists and even teachers - in an agency of this kind will, of course, not be simple. The view may be taken that they will not have the professional scope or facilities which they would have in the Ministries of Health, Agriculture or Education, and therefore professional people of these kinds will not want to join the agency. It has been suggested that it would be better to second such people for periods from established departments. But it is doubtful if secondment would prove satisfactory. In the light of what has happened in the past, it seems likely that persons of ability in established departments would be unwilling to seek secondment because of fear that they would lose career opportunity.

The difficulty may be overcome if sufficient rewards are given to the professional people who work in the agency, if they have opportunity of rising in the general agency structure. Arrangements would also have to be made for the technical resources of these departments, such as laboratory services, to be available to agency personnel when they are required. Providing the agency is sufficiently close to the sources of political power, it should be possible for such arrangements to be made.

Another argument against secondment is that the personnel tend to regard their positions as temporary and are not therefore inclined to develop the special skills and understanding which their jobs require. A hill agriculturist for instance, requires a different range of knowledge and experience from a lowland agriculturist. A teacher in a tribal area, or a social development worker, should know the tribal language. The greatest weakness in all Hill Tribes work hitherto has been that very, very few workers have developed the necessary special skills or learnt tribal languages. Workers are unlikely to do so unless they can look upon their work as a career. They can find a career only in an agency of the kind which we have recommended.

  1. Every effort should be made to ensure smooth and quick financial operations within the agency. If possible, special funds should be provided for the agency from Government sources or by application to overseas sources of funds, such as the United Nations Development Programme.

External funds, however, should be used only to develop projects which are capable of being sustained later by the national budget.

  1. Every possible effort should be made to decentralize as far as possible the activities of the agency in order that both senior and junior members of staff will have the closest possible familiarity with the Hill Tribes, and also in order that procedural delays in implementing policy decisions will be kept to a minimum. Consideration should be given to locating the main technical divisions of the agency in Chiengmai.

(c) Arguments against a Hill Tribes agency

One anthropologist working in the Hill Tribes area has expressed disagreement with the proposal to set up a single agency, or department, to deal with the Hill Tribes. His argument does involve considerations of basic issues of policy towards the Hill Tribes upon which it is necessary to come to some decision.

He argues that the creation of a separate department of Hill Tribes affairs will lead to the Hill Tribes being conceived as bring a separate entity. They are not, he says, a single entity. The tribes differ much from one another. Furthermore, only the tribes living at high altitude, such as the Miao and Yao, are really separate cultural and socio-economic groups from the Thai. The groups at lower altitudes, especially the Karen, are closer to the Thai in cultural modes and have a much wider range of trading contacts with the lowland people. There are also groups closer still to the Thai in culture, such as the Lawa, who nevertheless by location and because of the fact that they practise some slash-and-burn agriculture could be classified as hill people. The general line of this argument is that the lines of division between hill people and lowland people are not clearly defined, that contact between them is increasing and that therefore the separate categorization of the hill people as a distinctive group may impede their assimilation to Thai culture.

The facts upon which this argument is based deserve the most careful attention. No policy should attempt to stabilize the present situation in a way which would prevent hill tribesmen from assimilating completely to the Thai way of life if they wish. Nor should any policy make the mistake of regarding all people who live in the hills as if they were a single, undifferentiated group. But there is no reason why either of these mistakes should be made if the agency keeps itself, as it should, fully informed of the situation. The agency would concern itself with the special problems of the hill people wherever special problems exit. It need not concern itself with those groups or persons who have no special problems or impede in any way those who wish to assimilate completely with the lowland people.

In order to avoid distinguishing the hill people in any way which might impede the progressive development of inter-group relationships the agency would not seek to introduce separate laws for the tribes but would concentrate on promoting social, economic and educational advancement of the tribal people. At the same time it would seek to extend to them whenever practicable the normal rights and obligations of Thai law, as, for instance, by giving land titles to all the stable groups.

(d) Arguments in favour of a Hill Tribes agency

The counter-argument to the one we have just presented is that failure to recognize the tribes people as distinctive in culture and situation from the lowland people is to overlook basic facts of the greatest practical importance. It is true that the distinctions are greatest in the case of the high altitude tribes, such as the Miao and Yao, but even in the case of the Karen, a low altitude tribe, many distinctions underlie an apparent similarity to the lowland people. For instance, at least in the Mae Sariang district on which we have data, a smaller proportion of Karen than of Miao appear to understand the Thai language, even of the northern variant. Moreover, it is the high elevation tribes who are of the greatest economic concern because they are the prime producers of opium.

The fact is that the majority of the Hill Tribes have successfully maintained their distinctive cultural modes for hundreds and in some instances thousands of years. Although assimilation to the majority group in Thailand will proceed at a quickened pace because of the impact of the industrial technological system, the distinctive cultures and languages are unlikely to be extinguished within the next generation. Therefore the Government is faced with a number of groups who do feel and practise a cultural distinctiveness in dress, ways of life and languages. The tribes are basically loyal. Their loyalty is based upon friendship, absence of exploitation and domination, and mutual respect. To preserve this harmonious relationship these qualities should be preserved, which implies a recognition of the distinctiveness of the tribes while at the same time promoting greater contacts.

The view now expressed accords with the policy statement of the Minister of Interior, General Prabhas Charusathira, Chairman of the Hill Tribes Welfare Committee, published in Thai and English in August, 1966. General Prabhas says:

"Our policy aims to improve tribal welfare while respecting tribal integrity. It is not the intention of the Government to force tribal people to give up their own traditional ways of life and become exactly like the Thai people. They may continue to practise their own religious and distinctive customs as long as they wish. By doing so, they may make a contribution to the rich cultural variety of the Thai nation as a whole. There is no attempt to break up their social groupings or disturb their residence in the hills. The sole political requirement placed upon them is that they have loyalty to the King and abide by the laws of the country. In return, the Government will make every effort to promote their economic and social development. Our policy is one of integration rather than assimilation, although no obstacles will be placed in the way of tribal peoples who do wish to indentify themselves completely with the Thai."

This could stand as a statement of policy for the proposed Hill Tribes Agency.

One final remark may be made, stimulated by General Prabhas' reference to the cultural variety of the Hill Tribes. The north of Thailand is one of Asia's last remaining regions of spectacular cultural variety in dress and customs. It would be wrong to try to preserve it, against the wishes of the people, as a living cultural museum. But it may also be borne in mind that much of the beneficial attention which the Hill Tribes are now receiving is precisely because of their distinctive character. If they lose too quickly their distinctive cultures, owing to pressure from Government agencies upon them to conform to national norms, they may also lose some of their interest and be themselves after a few years possessed of a sense of loss. Much of the culture also has unique value in itself, being of high artistic quality. It is part of the country's heritage. As visitors to the country and impressed with the high quality of much of the tribal art, we hope that its worth will be recognized by the Hill Tribes Agency and that encouragement will be given to the tribal people, especially through their schools, to preserve whatever they feel to be of value in their costumes, customs and languages.

In most cases these tribal people will continue to use their own languages at least for many years to come. This fact should be recognized in the educational system and in information and entertainment services, especially those of radio. Field officers of the agency should strive to become familiar with the language of the tribal area in which they work. The aim should be to develop bilingualism, in Thai and a tribal language, both in the agency officers and in the tribal people. We believe that some teaching in schools should, as soon as practicable, be in tribal languages, because this is the only way to get the lessons across to the younger students. Radio broadcasts should also be partly in tribal languages.

A main task of the agency should be to develop an efficient pattern of local leadership, and wherever possible it should employ tribes people in its service.

The tasks of the agency now proposed should be challenging and fascinating to young Thai civil servants of energy and enterprise, and it should contribute greatly to the welfare, economic development and security of all Thailand's people.

II. The future of the Tribal Research Centre

At present the Tribal Research Centre is a sub-section of the Hill Tribes Division of the Department of Public Welfare. But it has co-operated closely with the Border Patrol Police and in 1966 it also conducted an orientation course in which representatives of all Government departments concerned with the Hill Tribes participated.

The Central has adopted a plan for a co-ordinated series of socio-economic studies of the six main tribes - Miao, Yao, Lahu, Lisu, Akha and Karen. The studies will take two years and will be conducted by qualified anthropologists, most of them recruited overseas, each assisted by a Thai junior research worker employed by the Centre. The junior research workers will be trained in field methods by the anthropologists, will if possible be given scholarships for further academic training overseas and will, eventually, become expert on the tribe with which they have been associated. The socio-economic studies are expected to yield scientific information on the Hill Tribes of a quality never previously achieved. Three of the studies are already well under way - those of the Miao, the Yao and the Lahu.

Finance for the three overseas anthropologists so far engaged has come in two instances from the Australian Government and in a third from the British Government. The Australian Government has provided advisers for the Centre and transport, the British Government gifts of books and the United States Government gifts of photographic and recording equipment.

Independently financed foreign anthropologists are making studies of the Akha, Karen and Miao. Another anthropologist studied the Lisu for a period before sickness interrupted the study. These anthropologists have co-operated with the Centre. It is planned to hold a seminar in a few months time in which all the anthropologists working in tribal areas as well as some working in Thai communities will participate.

Although primary emphasis has been placed upon the basic socio-economic studies, it is not intended that they shall be the only kind of research carried out by the Centre. As soon as personnel and finance permit it is hoped to begin a programme of agricultural research and already a junior agricultural research worker has been recruited to the Centre. It is hoped also to appoint a statistical officer who will compile and keep up to date an index of tribal populations, disribution of settlements and movements of tribal people into and within. Thailand, co-operating in this work with the National Statistical Office and officers concerned with tribal affairs at Provincial and District levels. Such officers have not yet been appointed but a scheme to appoint them could well form part of the plan for the proposed Hill Tribes Agency.

It is also hoped to have six research officers working on tribal languages.

Generally it is intended that the Centre shall serve as a clearing house for all the latest information on the Hill Tribes and shall carry out the long-term projects described above as well as short-term projects related to specific development and welfare projects.

Although the Tribal Research Centre is now firmly established as an institution it suffers from the same handicaps of low status in the Government structure as does the Hill Tribes Division. It suffers from them in even worse degree because technically it is a sub-section of the Hill Tribes Division. Budgetary procedures are cumbersome and administrative requirements occupy a great portion of the time of the Director and the total time of a majority of the staff.

The situation has been mitigated by the personal interest which the Director of Public Welfare has taken in the Research Centre. The Centre has been carefully nursed from its birth and during its early growth by the Department of Public Welfare, and thus has received consideration beyond its status. The problems it faces are structural and not personal. It has become clear that if the Centre is to expand and to operate effectively it must be given much higher status.

It is difficult for the Tribal Research Centre to fulfil adequately its role of providing research information and assistance to all departments operating in the tribal areas while it is a section of one particular department. There is the possibility that the other departments will wish to develop their own research sections. This would mean unnecessary duplication of effort and waste of money, and would probably result in a number of rather poor organizations instead of one high-grade institution.

We conclude therefore, that the Tribal Research Centre should be given higher status and should be independent of any of the present departments.

Two possibilities of achieving this situation may be suggested. The first one is that the Centre should become a University institution. Chiangmai University co-operated with the Department of Public Welfare in establishing the Centre and it appears to have been the first intention of the planners that it should eventually be incorporated into Chiangmai University, on the campus of which it is located.

There would be advantages and disadvantages in such an association. The advantages are:

  1. Association with the University would make the Centre independent of any single Government department and thus it would be able to serve them all equally.

  2. The Centre would have higher academic standing, which should make it easier for it to secure the co-operation and services of foreign scholars.

  3. As an independent research institution the Centre would find it much easier to get financial aid from overseas foundations, which are usually reluctant to provide funds for regular Government departments.

The disadvantages of an association with the University are:

  1. It might be harder for the Centre to recruit Thai staff.

We have reason to believe that in Thailand university service is less favoured than Government service by the best graduates.

  1. The Centre would be separated from the departments actively concerned with security, administration and development in the tribal areas. This might make it more difficult for the Centre to obtain facilities for its research staff. It might also reduce the impact of its reports upon the practical planning of welfare and development measures.

The advantages must be weighed against the disadvantages. On the whole we incline to the view that, if the present situation continues in which many departments have Hill Tribes programmes, the advantages of a university association outweigh the disadvantages. In these circumstances we would recommend that the Tribal Research Centre be made an institution of Chiangmai University. If this should happen, however, it should be kept as a distinct research institution and be accorded Faculty status in the University administrative system. In order that it may expand its activities, funds for it should be sought from major overseas foundations.

We have said there were two possibilities of achieving an appropriate status for the Tribal Research Centre. We have discussed the possibility of linking it with Chiangmai University. The second possibility will arise if the unified Hill Tribes Agency which we have recommended is created. The Tribal Research Centre could then become an organ of this Agency. If so, it should be linked to the Agency at a high level, the Director of the Centre preferably being responsible directly to the head of the Agency without any intermediate links. Only in this way could the Centre be given the necessary status for it to operate efficiently. As far as possible it should be allowed independence to conduct its research activities as the director sees fit, and it should either retain its present name, or be called an institute, in order to indicate its semi-independent status and thus facilitate foundation support.

Because of the practical advantages of a direct association of the Centre with the Agency responsible for Hill Tribes affairs we would recommend this alternative. Nevertheless the University link should be given serious consideration.

There are, of course, other possibilities. The Centre could either be placed directly under the Ministry of Interior, or it could become part of the National Research Council, or of the Applied Scientific Research Corporation. There appears to be merit in each of these suggestions, especially perhaps in the first one because the Ministry of Interior co-ordinates both the Department of Public Welfare and the Police Department and the Minister of Interior is Chairman of the Hill Tribes Welfare Committee. But persons with whom we have talked appear to believe that neither proposal is practicable.

It is clear that the Tribal Research Centre must be given higher status and much greater resources of money and personnel if it is to carry out successfully its vitally important tasks. The success of all development schemes for Hill Tribes depends upon accurate information and constant evaluation. Staff of the highest possible intellectual calibre and scientific training should be sought for the Centre. Conditions of service should be such as to attract and keep them.

III. Appointment of District Hill Tribes Officers

A central agency may determine policy and give direction, overseas consultants may give advice but action must be taken by persons on the spot. If the amount of poppy growing is to be reduced and the general conditions of the Hill Tribes improved, there is need for effective action at the village level. This action must be concerned not simply with the reduction of opium production but also with agricultural and political development. If the opium production is to be reduced, agricultural development is necessary in order to get a replacement for it and, for agricultural development to proceed, there needs to be the development of better village leadership.

Let us, therefore, consider briefly each of these three aspects in order to demonstrate why an intensive local programme is necessary.

(a) Reduction of opium

We have suggested elsewhere that a good policy would be to create opium-free areas and to extend these, beginning with the least difficult areas, that is either the more accessible ones, those with no acute security problems, or the areas into which poppy cultivation is just beginning to spread until in due course of time the free areas cover the whole sub-region.

The first task will be to define the areas where a beginning is to be made, and then action must be taken to eliminate opium progressively within them. The definition of the areas and the action will both require localized effort. Acting upon information supplied by its local officers, the central Hill Tribes Agency would make a map of the areas recording all details of the socio-economic situations and use this map in briefing the local officers in the action they should take.

(b) Agricultural development

We have already proposed investigation into general matters of agricultural development and suggested the use of some high quality overseas consultants. But although some excellent new ideas may thus emerge, the basic prescription for Hill Tribes development will probably continue to be the one already well-known to all: more rice, more livestock, a variety of vegetables and tree crops grown on a small scale for limited local markets. The problem would be to get the prescription applied in the villages and to have it applied in the way best suited to the local circumstances of each village. Detailed study would have to be made of local conditions. Exact information must be got on the size of populations, dimensions and types of land available and how this is utilized for rice, opium and other crops, and the number of livestock and how they are managed and fed. This information would be put on the map and action would be guided by the nature of that information.

(c) P olitical development

Because self-help is the most effective form of help, existing village leadership should be strengthened whenever necessary and possible, as indeed the Border Patrol Police are already doing in their programmes. Where there are no official headmen, these should be appointed. Councils to assist headmen may also be established and a system of regular elections of the headmen, approved by the Government, should be instituted. In areas where Hill Tribes predominate more of the kamnans(sub-district headmen) should be hill tribesmen or, if this is not considered desirable, hill tribesmen should at least be made assistant-kamnans. For consultation and education, headmen and kamnans should meet regularly with the local officers of the Hill Tribes Agency.

We have sketched the needs. What organization can we now suggest to meet them?

We suggest that a well qualified officer appointed by the Hill Tribes Agency be attached to each district ( amphur) . Administratively his situation would be the same as that of an outposted officer of any other Government department. He would be responsible to the District Officer and through him to the Governor of the Province, his professional direction would come from the central Hill Tribes Agency.

The duties of the District Hill Tribes Officer would be:

  1. To prepare a socio-economic map of his district, recording the location of the Hill Tribes villages, their populations, living conditions, land resources, crops and average incomes in subsistence and cash. In accumulating this information the District Officer should be helped by the resources of the central Hill Tribes Agency, including its Research Centre. This help could come in various ways by the supply of aerial photographs from surveyors, agricultural knowledge and so on. A major function of the central Hill Tribes Agency should be the supplying of help of this kind to its out-posted officers.

The information gained by the District Hill Tribes Officers would be communicated to the central office of the Agency. Thus the central office would always have a full and up-to-date picture of the situation in the whole tribal area. This would enable it go give the best advice to its outposted officers.

Information collected in this manner - by regular officers stationed for long periods in districts - would be much more detailed and reliable than information collected by occasional surveys by enumerators making their first acquaintance with the Hill Tribes and staying only a short time.

  1. The District Hill Tribes Officer, having compiled his " socio-economic " map and gained an appreciation of the needs of tribal villages in his district, would initiate development measures. His action would be at village level and its nature might differ from village to village. In one case, perhaps, it might be the introduction of a new vegetable crop, in another the improvement of livestock, while a third might be to suggest the village be resited to improve health or access to land. The officer would work through the system of local leadership, which it would also be part of his duty to improve by holding regular meetings of village headmen or in other appropriate ways.

In his development work, just as in his information-gathering role, he would be able to call on the services of the central Hill Tribes Agency, which should possess the facilities to aid him. Mobile teams from the Agency, on the lines of those already working for the Border Patrol Police Division and the Department of Public Welfare, would be one service which could be provided. Mobile teams would have an enhanced effectiveness utilized in this way. At present mobile teams often have only a short-term effect because when they move elsewhere their work is not maintained. Under the scheme we envisage the District Hill Tribes Officer would use the teams for pioneering work which he would continue to supervise after the teams had gone.

All the development work would proceed according to the district plan which had been drawn and approved at the central headquarters.

A second service which the central Hill Tribes Agency could provide would be the money and goods required for the development work.

The District Hill Tribes Officer would be expected to visit the tribal villages in his district at frequent intervals, to familiarize himself with one or more tribal languages, and to hold regular meetings with village leaders. He would seek not only to introduce new economic methods but to improve traditional methods, as by encouraging the best practices of shifting cultivation such as keeping to a suitable rotation, conserving strips of forest between cultivated areas improving the fertility of the soil. His degree of success should determine his advancement in the service of the Agency.

The District Hill Tribes Officers would be the fingers of the central Hill Tribes Agency. The Agency would have a master plan for development which would be implemented through these District Hill Tribes Officers. The progressive replacement of opium in area after area would be an essential part of the plan.

To cover the cost of the replacement of poppy by the introduction of new crops, livestock and so forth, the Agency should request an appropriation from the Government budget or, lacking such an appropriation, seek aid from outside sources and the funds applied in those districts which are scheduled in the plan for the elimination of poppy growing within a definite period of years. It could be agreed that continuance of the subsidy and its application to further districts would be conditional upon success having been achieved in the districts first subjected to this proposed policy and practice.

The resources of the Government may not permit it to place District Hill Tribes officers in all districts initially. If this be so, the scheme should begin in selected districts considered especially suitable for the early elimination of poppy. But it is desirable that officers be stationed in all districts with substantial Hill Tribe populations as soon as possible. In the long run it would probably prove a cheaper way of handling the tribal situation than the diverse and occasionally highly intensive but spasmodic efforts which have occurred in the past and which probably would otherwise continue to be needed in the future.

IV. Consideration of problems of land tenure

If the Hill Tribes are even to be stabilized in accordance with the basic principles and practices of conservation farming, without which no agricultural activities could for long be economic, they would perhaps have to be granted a more secure tenure of the land they farm. At present they have no legal rights, although in fact Hill Tribes often sell land to one another and each tribe has a system of rights amongst its members.

The granting of land rights to the tribes would involve problems. It would not be possible to grant land rights to the migratory groups. On the other hand, the granting of definite rights to the long settled groups would have the desirable effect of protecting their traditional territory against encroachment from the migratory groups and in time would oblige the migratory groups to become more stable.

This presupposes that the Hill Tribes could be shown how to farm successfully on areas of land upon which they would be permanently settled without harming the soil. This would require that the areas allocated to groups, villages or families should be sufficiently large to permit of a fallow or other form of rotation, until more is known about how to cultivate the same portion of soil successively for a number of years.



We suggest that the Government might consider a scheme to grant territorial rights, subject, of course, to the over-riding interest of the Crown, to those village groups which have been in the same areas for over twenty years. Later the scheme might be extended to allow the granting of provisional rights to groups which express intentions of settling permanently. All the land rights could be made subject to the condition that no poppy be grown on the land and that the principles and practices of conservation farming be strictly applied by those in whom tenure would be vested, say, a group or village.

Rights would not be granted to individual persons but only to the village groups. The division of rights amongst the persons within the groups should be left, initially at least, to the customary processes of the groups themselves.

If rights are granted to villages, disputes between villages are almost certain to occur, and possibly also disputes between tribes. But this is a cost which will have to be borne for the sake of a better general condition. The fact that disputes are little heard of at present is due to the fact that villages know they have no secure rights and therefore the weaker villages have no choice but to yield to the stronger if they come under severe pressure. This results in a sense of insecurity which discourages permanent improvement of the land and also in a continual population flux which prevents the best use of the land.

The present situation would be much worse if it were not for the fact that there is a kind of rough law already in existence in the tribal areas. Nearly all tribal groups respect the rights of other groups to land which is actually in use and often extend their respect to land which the groups have indicated they intend to use in the near future. If disputes do arise police and district officials usually arbitrate according to the principles of this rough law, although it has no validity in the legal code. Officials may also refuse to allow groups from other areas to migrate into territory which they consider for various reasons to be unsuitable for their use.

But the operation of the rough law are subject to whim and pressure. Economic development requires a more regular system. Disputes may be kept to a small number by a clear definition of village boundaries, if possible through a cadastral survey. Disputes which do occur could be arbitrated by the District Officer assisted by the District Hill Tribes Officer. The classification of villages to determine those eligible for land rights and the determination of the areas to which they shall be given the rights could be a major activity of the Hill Tribes agency and one of the many functions in which it could utilize its officers outposted in the districts.

V. Appointment of Special Adviser on Hill Tribes Development

We recommend that the Government of Thailand should consider requesting a Special Adviser on Hill Tribes Development under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A senior Thai official as counterpart would be appointed simultaneously by the Government, preferably the Director of the proposed Agency. The Special Adviser would assist in co-ordinating the efforts of the various interested ministries, universities, research institutions, learned societies, and individuals, and through his Thai colleague harmonize the Hill Tribes Development programme. He would also be the principal counsellor to the head of the proposed Agency, on international aspects of the problem including possibilities of seeking foreign aid. He would be expected to advise on matters concerning narcotics enforcement policies with relation to the Hill Tribes. The Adviser-Co-ordinator would report to the Government and to the UNDP, as appropriate.

For long-range planning purposes the appointment should be made for an initial three-year period, and prolonged, if need be, for not more than an additional three years, reflecting the passage from the agro-anthropological stage to the enforcement-oriented one. By that time (six years) the international programme should be virtually completed.

The Adviser-Co-ordinator should ideally be a specialist with intimate knowledge of the Hill Tribes problems and should be prepared to spend considerable periods of time in field work in relation to the activities of the proposed District Officers of the agency, as referred to above.

The Adviser-Co-ordinator could well use the services of agencies and experts already established in Thailand, such as the outposted officer of the UN Division of Narcotic Drugs, FAO, ECAFE Social Affairs Division, WHO and others. A request to the United Nations under UNDP for the services of a specialist on anti-smuggling measures might also be considered.



A study on the analgetic and neuropharmacological properties of Δ 1-and Δ 1- and Δ 1( 6)- tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) - active constituents of cannabis - has been published by Bicher and Mechoulam. Their experiments show that both Δ l-THC and Δ l( 6)- THC possess strong analgetic properties in the non-toxic dose range demonstrable in both mice (writhing, hot plate, and tail flick tests) and rabbits (electrical stimulation of the sciatic nerve). The analgetic effect of 20 mg/kg of THC was comparable to that of 10 mg/kg of morphine sulfate.

The mechanism of action of THC is different from that of morphine; in the case of THC the experiments indicate a possible excitatory effect on midbrain structure, in addition to cortical excitation while morphine depresses the cortical electrical activity. The two drugs also produce opposite effects on the hypotensive reaction induced by pain stimulation in the wake rabbit. (Archives internationales de pharmacodynamie et de thérapie, 172 (1), (1968) p. 24-32. See also Vol. XX, No. 2 of the Bulletin: "Determination of tetrahydrocannabinol isomers in marijuana and hashish", by Melvin Lerner & Judith T. Zeffert.)


Regular out-patient treatment is available at eleven hospitals. Similarly in-patient treatment is provided at eleven hospitals. Psychiatric hospitals in general also treat addicts as in-patients as part of their normal service. On 31 December 1967, forty-two in-patients were being treated for heroin addiction in hospitals serving the London area. Further expansion is planned for the near future. ( The Lancet, 1, 7536, 1968.)


Among the first inquiries to be made in France into the abuse of new substances is the study carried out by P.E. Hivert and S. Schaub of Paris in their prison practice of 10 cases of drug addiction, 8 of them apparently foreigners. These authors note an increase in the number of such cases in recent years: from one case in 1964 and three cases in 1965 to 10 cases in the first quarter of 1966 alone. These 10 cases included 8 mixed drug addicts, four of whom were found to have used LSD, one case of pure LSD intoxication and one doubtful case of LSD intoxication, posing a medico-legal problem. The appearances of new drugs is also noted. Although the authors' field of study is limited by the paucity of cases, the brevity of the observation period, the time of the examination (2-3 days after withdrawal), the lack of external control information, sociological data and biological controls, they have studied LSD-25 in closer detail, and the history of its use in France.

In 1954 and succeeding years LSD-25 was used for strictly medical purposes, i.e. its use was reserved for psychiatrists for purposes of diagnosis (experimental psychosis) or therapy (abreaction of neuroses), in which cases the effects could be controlled by neuroleptics (see the works by Delay, Deniker, Ey, Sutter, Borenstein and their colleagues). Then, suddenly, LSD-25 began to attract public interest, to be publicized in the Press and introduced into cultural circles abroad (of the 10 cases referred to above, 8 were foreigners, including five Americans). Those affected are mainly young people, especially the members of a particular social group known as "Beatniks ". These are intellectuals who frequent artistic circles, live on the fringe of society, as parasites, and flaunt their rejection of the conventions. They are more asocial than anti-social, and their "protest" remains fairly passive. In their escape from society, the drug is the passport to an existence divorced from reality - a "trip" which, despite the appearance of a group life which is more gregarious than communal, remains a solitary one. This group is composed not so much of psychopaths as of young, immature persons for whom the drug may be the cause of complete desocialization.

One particular observation relates to a young Frenchman, aged 24, intelligent, of a high cultural level who, after indulging in drugs - amphetamines, barbiturates, palfium, hashish, heroin (over a period of five years) and finally LSD (over a period of three months) - has become completely desocialized in successive stages (divorce, vagabond existence, throwing up his jobs).

Confronted with this situation, the Government took an emergency measure: by the Ministerial Decree of 1 June 1966, LSD-25 was included in the schedule of narcotic drugs for non-therapeutic purposes. In practice, the drug is allocated in a given dosage to a physician who is designated by name and its use is reserved strictly for hospitals, subject to the personal authorization of the Minister for Social Affairs ( Annales de médecine légale, December 1967, No. 7, pp. 790-791).


Professors Vondráček, Prokůpek, Fischer and Ahren-bergov (Prague) published recently a paper on the problems of addiction in Czechoslovakia.

Dependence on morphine and on its derivatives does not pose a serious problem in Czechoslovakia. Abuse of amphetamines and barbiturates is more prevalent. At present, the main problem is phenmetrazine (preludin). In the year 1964, the consumption of this drug reached 19.4 million tablets. The abuse is especially frequent among medical and health workers, because this group can easily obtain the drug. The abuse of phenmetrazine caused toxic psychoses, either of paranoid hallucinatory type or of the maniac syndrome. The experience of the Psychiatric Clinic in Prague shows that in recent years drug addiction has come to represent 3 per cent of all hospital admissions, of which 40 per cent are phenmetrazine addictions.

The consumption of phenmetrazine in Prague amounted, in 1965, to 16 per cent of the total consumption in the country, though Prague accounts for only about 8 per cent of the population. At the same time the increase of the consumption of other drugs was proportional in Prague and in the whole country.

The consumption of non-narcotic analgesics is rising in Czechoslovakia. An anti-asthmatic preparation containing phenazone, iodophenazone, caffeine, ephedrine and procaine was the cause of unusual toxic ephedrine psychoses. The psychoses show the picture of paranoid hallucination as in psychoses of schizophrenic type.

(Recent patterns of addiction in Czechoslovakia, British Journal of Psychiatry, 114, 285-292 (1968)).


* A "nikhom" is an agricultural settlement.