A Muslim community in Bangkok that lives the self-reliant way

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Koiruttakwa community1_Arno Maierbrugger
Homestay for visitors to the Koiruttakwa community in Nong Chok, Bangkok © Arno Maierbrugger

Nong Chok is the biggest and least populated district of Bangkok, traversed by canals that since the early days are used for transport and irrigation of land as agriculture remains the most important pillar of the local economy. But Nong Chok also stands out from Bangkok’s 50 districts for another reason: Around 75 per cent of its population is Muslim as a result of people relocating from cities and villages in southern Thailand at the beginning of the last century. Many of Bangkok’s more than 170 mosques can be found in Nong Chok, and most local communities maintain their original lifestyle by engaging in farming, raising animals and living a simple way of life in harmony with their Buddhist fellow citizens.

One particular interesting community in Nong Chok is “The Golden Land Community” of Koiruttakwa, or Lam Sai, an old Muslim community founded more than 140 years ago and today consisting of about 700 residents in some 150 households. Koiruttakwa is characterised as a self-reliant community (in economic terms) at an advanced level and as such a prominent example for Thailand’s “sufficiency economy” concept.

It hasn’t always been like that. One generation ago, amid rapid economic and societal change, the community moved away from agricultural self supply and got intertwined with the urban economy of Bangkok. As a result, land became scarce and many community members moved closer to Bangkok’s urban centers to seek jobs and live a modern-day citylive, threatening to break up the former coherence of Koiruttakwa.

As a countermeasure, remaining community members stepped up activities to “immunise” themselves against the damage from such rapid change and found that both Islam and Thailand’s “sufficiency economy” principle gave them the same advice: to restore a self-reliant economy, invest in social capital, build schools, provide for the needy and cut back the dependence from the outside.

The community remodeled itself with self-reliant family farming what would later become the “New Theory School” of the sufficiency economy. A farmer’s land was divided in the ratio 30:30:30:10, whereby the first three same-sized plots would be used for water storage, cultivating rice and growing fruits, vegetables and herbs, respectively, and the smallest plot would contain the family dwellings. That approach enabled farmers to optimise their agricultural output and set aside income for more specialised activities, such as venturing into fish farming, biodiesel and biofertiliser production, growing alternative agricultural products and raising exceptional animals, as well as opening homestays for visitors who want to stay in the community for a while and learn about their principles and techniques in the “New Theory School” at Koiruttakwa which opened in 2006.

Somchai Samarntrakun, Chairman Koiruttakwa Golden Land Community_Arno Maierbrugger
Somchai Samarntrakun, Chairman of Koiruttakwa Golden Land Community © Arno Maierbrugger

Somchai Samarntrakun, chairman of the Koiruttakwa Golden Land Community, says that what the community did has been a success in the sense of becoming self-reliant or not depending on supply from outside any more.

“We have everything we need,” he says.

“We help each other, live in an economical way, use resources appropriately, without extravagance. These are Islamic principles, but also principles in line with the concept of the sufficiency economy, under which we maintain a life of moderation and are happy because of this,” he adds.

Over time, Koiruttakwa has become known as the only community in Bangkok that has been able to maintain its identity while practicing self sufficiency.  It has been selected by the National Economic and Social Development Board of Thailand as a major case study for sufficiency economy in the entire country and the only one in Bangkok and has also been named a sufficiency economy learning center, organising seminars and training lessons for students and other interested people.

Koiruttakwa community2_Arno Maierbrugger
Self-reliant rice cultivation in the Koiruttakwa community © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community3_Arno Maierbrugger
Learning station © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community6_Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community fish pond © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community7_Arno Maierbrugger
The community is known for its black swan stock © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community4_Arno Maierbrugger
Alternative plants: Sunflowers… © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community5_Arno Maierbrugger
…and fancy animals such as these parrots at Koiruttakwa community © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community8_Arno Maierbrugger
Huge beans in the vegetable garden © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community9_Arno Maierbrugger
Variety of animal breeding © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community10_Arno Maierbrugger
Another fish pond with lily pads at Koiruttakwa community © Arno Maierbrugger
Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Homestay for visitors to the Koiruttakwa community in Nong Chok, Bangkok © Arno Maierbrugger

Nong Chok is the biggest and least populated district of Bangkok, traversed by canals that since the early days are used for transport and irrigation of land as agriculture remains the most important pillar of the local economy. But Nong Chok also stands out from Bangkok’s 50 districts for another reason: Around 75 per cent of its population is Muslim as a result of people relocating from cities and villages in southern Thailand at the beginning of the last century. Many of Bangkok’s more than 170 mosques can be found in Nong Chok, and most local communities maintain their original lifestyle by engaging in farming, raising animals and living a simple way of life in harmony with their Buddhist fellow citizens.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Koiruttakwa community1_Arno Maierbrugger
Homestay for visitors to the Koiruttakwa community in Nong Chok, Bangkok © Arno Maierbrugger

Nong Chok is the biggest and least populated district of Bangkok, traversed by canals that since the early days are used for transport and irrigation of land as agriculture remains the most important pillar of the local economy. But Nong Chok also stands out from Bangkok’s 50 districts for another reason: Around 75 per cent of its population is Muslim as a result of people relocating from cities and villages in southern Thailand at the beginning of the last century. Many of Bangkok’s more than 170 mosques can be found in Nong Chok, and most local communities maintain their original lifestyle by engaging in farming, raising animals and living a simple way of life in harmony with their Buddhist fellow citizens.

One particular interesting community in Nong Chok is “The Golden Land Community” of Koiruttakwa, or Lam Sai, an old Muslim community founded more than 140 years ago and today consisting of about 700 residents in some 150 households. Koiruttakwa is characterised as a self-reliant community (in economic terms) at an advanced level and as such a prominent example for Thailand’s “sufficiency economy” concept.

It hasn’t always been like that. One generation ago, amid rapid economic and societal change, the community moved away from agricultural self supply and got intertwined with the urban economy of Bangkok. As a result, land became scarce and many community members moved closer to Bangkok’s urban centers to seek jobs and live a modern-day citylive, threatening to break up the former coherence of Koiruttakwa.

As a countermeasure, remaining community members stepped up activities to “immunise” themselves against the damage from such rapid change and found that both Islam and Thailand’s “sufficiency economy” principle gave them the same advice: to restore a self-reliant economy, invest in social capital, build schools, provide for the needy and cut back the dependence from the outside.

The community remodeled itself with self-reliant family farming what would later become the “New Theory School” of the sufficiency economy. A farmer’s land was divided in the ratio 30:30:30:10, whereby the first three same-sized plots would be used for water storage, cultivating rice and growing fruits, vegetables and herbs, respectively, and the smallest plot would contain the family dwellings. That approach enabled farmers to optimise their agricultural output and set aside income for more specialised activities, such as venturing into fish farming, biodiesel and biofertiliser production, growing alternative agricultural products and raising exceptional animals, as well as opening homestays for visitors who want to stay in the community for a while and learn about their principles and techniques in the “New Theory School” at Koiruttakwa which opened in 2006.

Somchai Samarntrakun, Chairman Koiruttakwa Golden Land Community_Arno Maierbrugger
Somchai Samarntrakun, Chairman of Koiruttakwa Golden Land Community © Arno Maierbrugger

Somchai Samarntrakun, chairman of the Koiruttakwa Golden Land Community, says that what the community did has been a success in the sense of becoming self-reliant or not depending on supply from outside any more.

“We have everything we need,” he says.

“We help each other, live in an economical way, use resources appropriately, without extravagance. These are Islamic principles, but also principles in line with the concept of the sufficiency economy, under which we maintain a life of moderation and are happy because of this,” he adds.

Over time, Koiruttakwa has become known as the only community in Bangkok that has been able to maintain its identity while practicing self sufficiency.  It has been selected by the National Economic and Social Development Board of Thailand as a major case study for sufficiency economy in the entire country and the only one in Bangkok and has also been named a sufficiency economy learning center, organising seminars and training lessons for students and other interested people.

Koiruttakwa community2_Arno Maierbrugger
Self-reliant rice cultivation in the Koiruttakwa community © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community3_Arno Maierbrugger
Learning station © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community6_Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community fish pond © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community7_Arno Maierbrugger
The community is known for its black swan stock © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community4_Arno Maierbrugger
Alternative plants: Sunflowers… © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community5_Arno Maierbrugger
…and fancy animals such as these parrots at Koiruttakwa community © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community8_Arno Maierbrugger
Huge beans in the vegetable garden © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community9_Arno Maierbrugger
Variety of animal breeding © Arno Maierbrugger
Koiruttakwa community10_Arno Maierbrugger
Another fish pond with lily pads at Koiruttakwa community © Arno Maierbrugger
Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid