We just got the opportunity to catch up with a local farming couple who received a microloan from Our Jungle House to begin producing free-range eggs to sell back to our resort and other resorts in Khao Sok. Fet and his wife Aeh, have lived in Khao Sok for several decades, before the park was established, when Khao Sok was an unknown rice farming village completely enveloped by wilderness. Here’s what Fet had to say about his new project, and the old Khao Sok.
“The chicks were bought in July and will be producing eggs by December. We decided to buy them young so that we could raise them without feeding them steroids, antibiotics or other harmful chemicals. Luckily, the chickens are actually easier to take care of this way. All you need to do is give them enough rice chaff and some space to run around.
“We can’t leave them outside all the time to be completely free range. There are too many wild animals, like civet cats and hawks, ready to eat our chickens if we let them walk around the farm or nearby forest. We feed them in the morning and once they’ve laid their eggs, they can go outside for the afternoon.
“I’m learning a lot from my daughter about how to avoid feed with hormones and antibiotics. It’s funny that organic eggs are popular again, because in the old days, we had no choice but to raise our chickens the natural way. This has been a great opportunity for her to put her knowledge to work and for us to have a way to make some supplemental income.
“When I first moved here, the area looked very different. It was mostly forest or tall grass, which grew in the flood plains. Thirty years ago, there was only a small dirt road, two small stores to buy this and that, and the school was just a single room.
“Back then, we didn’t plant any rubber or any cash crops. No one did. It was only rice to feed ourselves, no one was really growing anything commercially. Most people, myself included, would have probably planted rubber trees, or palm, but no one had the money to do it. There was a lot of rattan around, which people used to make their furniture. If people had any surplus rattan or rice, they’d sell but it was never much.
“After the park opened, people started planting rubber. I don’t think it was related, but it didn’t happen until afterwards. I did it too, because growing fruits and veggies does not make enough money to support a family out here. Luckily, my brother has land next to me where he grows different fruits and vegetables: papaya, banana, yam, pineapple, and many local fruits. We take care of each other’s land and split the profits from my rubber, and share in the healthy harvests of his fruit and vegetables.