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    Back to the future




    Saen Uncharoen, 61, a Roi Et farmer, has ploughed with buffaloes for 50 years.

    Back to the future

    Daily Xpress

    Buffaloes plough fields and dung is fertilising rice paddy as farmers in the rural Northeast seek to shave fuel costs

    Northeast farmers are going back in time and using buffaloes to plough fields instead of tractors as a way of cutting fuel costs.
    Amporn Puntawee, 51, chairman of the Buffalo Preservation Committee at Bann Moo Mon in Chiang Kwan district of Roi Et, wants farmers to use buffaloes during planting season. He says they can save money on fuel, machinery and other costs.
    "If they use buffaloes, they will pay Bt12,000 for the animals," he says.
    Farmer Nurung Naisena, 59, earns a lot selling buffaloes. She needs only one rai of pasture to feed as many as five beasts.

    Tractors costly
    Ubon Ratchathani is encouraging its farmers in the same way.
    Subun Saikanok, Baan Tae Mai in Lao Sua Goke chief, says petrol prices affect farmers. Many use tractors. This adds to the cost of growing rice.
    Apart from fuel, chemical fertilisers are more expensive. A large sack costs as much as Bt1,200. Some are using natural fertiliser, and ploughing with buffaloes instead.
    Tractors can cost as much as Bt60,000 and hiring ploughing contractors costs as much as Bt350 a rai these days.
    In contrast, Subun says farmers who own buffaloes have manure for fertiliser. Natural fertiliser is just Bt300 a bag if there is not enough dung.

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    Re: Back to the future

    BUY-TO-LET BUFFALOES

    Another day, another fuel price rise ... leading to the return of an icon of rural Thailand, writes Prasit Tangprasert in Nakhon Ratchasima


    The ever-increasing cost of fuel is forcing many farmers to switch back to using water buffaloes instead of mechanical ploughs, and creating new oppportunities for people who own these traditional farm animals. PTT Plc and Bangchak Petroleum today raised all fuel by yet another 80 satang per litre, keeping the price for diesel at the pump at over 40 baht.

    And farmers are increasingly feeling the pinch.

    In Ban Nong Bo Thong, tambon Pho Klang in Nakhon Ratchasima's Muang district, buffalo labour is once again in great demand, this time by cassava growers.

    Chumpol Thitika, 56, owns a herd of six water buffaloes and has seen an opportunity. He rents out his livestock in the village, and the waiting list for his services is now more than two weeks.

    The animals hire out for 120 baht per rai ploughed, compared to owners of mechanical ploughs, who charge 250 baht per rai.

    Even though the buffaloes are slower than the machines, they do little damage to the cassava crop, Mr Chumpol said.

    The animals could work in the narrow furrows between the crop rows, which are difficult for large machines to enter.

    Mr Chumpol said one buffalo can command 500 to 600 baht a day.

    Preeda Saralai, a cassava farmer, said he hired buffaloes to till his 26 rai of land and he was satisfied with their performance.

    Using buffaloes could help him save a lot of money, he said.

    Until recently, buffaloes were very much a part of Thailand's farming landscape. For centuries, they had a variety of uses _ ploughing fields and providing transport and were even used in warfare.

    Their use declined as agriculture grew increasingly mechanised in recent decades, but with surging fuel prices, traditional farming methods could regain popularity
    Bangkok Post

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