DHAKA, Feb. 5 (NsNewsWire) — Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus was invited by Kasetsart University, Thailand’s leading agriculture university to visit the southern provinces of Thailand from 26-28 January. Southern Thailand has remained significantly behind the rest of Thailand in economic and social developments. Out of five provinces of the Southern Thailand, four provinces have more than 80% Muslim population. Professor Yunus was invited to meet the people and the administration of the provinces, and provide guidance and advice on how social business may benefit in the upliftment of the most disadvantaged communities of the South.
He was received at Hat Yai by Rear Admiral Somkeart Ponprayoon, Secretary General of Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) who is the administrative head of these five provinces. He has the status of a permanent secretary of the central government. He accompanied Professor Yunus for the duration of his entire stay in the south. During the visit Professor Yunus visited the provinces of Songkhla, Pattani and Yala.
On the first day of his visit, he received a warm welcome at the mosque from the Imam of the central mosque of Pattani, joined by the community leaders, youth representatives of Pattani. They discussed the potential for Grameen type microfinance and social business to benefit the Muslim communities of the region. Pattani was the capital of an ancient Malaysian sultanate for several centuries, and the city itself goes back to the 2nd century AD.
On the same evening, there was a special dinner in honor of Professor Yunus which was attended by the Secretary General of the region as well as governors of three southern provinces — Yala, Nurothawai and Pattani to discuss the possibility of collaboration with Yunus Centres at Kasetsart University and Asian Institute of Technology Bangkok for taking social and economic initiatives through social businesses with administrative support from the regional government. They were already familiar with the microcredit programmes in Malaysia which borders their provinces.
On the second day, Professor Yunus delivered a speech addressing the cross-section of the society in the south. When he arrived at the conference venue, Professor Yunus was received by Mr Doldet Pattanarat, the Governor of Yala and Mr Pongsak Yingchonchaoen, the Mayor of Yala city. The conference took place at the newly built Deepsouth Government Complex in Yala, South Thailand. He gave the speech on the theme of “Guidelines for the social and economic development to achieve sustainable peace”.
The conference was attended by the Secretary General of SBPAC, government officials, university Vice Chancellors, business leaders, community leaders, leaders of women’s groups and students, particularly large number of women students from various south Thailand universities. Over five hundred people attended the lecture.
Professor Yunus was taken to visit a fishing village on the coast of Gulf of Thailand to talk to the members of a fisheries cooperative. This fishermen cooperative has been catching fish of many kinds which are subsequently dried and sent to buyers, including to five star hotels, in Bangkok and other cities, to bring better prices to the members of the cooperative.
Professor Yunus had an open discussion about the problems of the fishing community in the region and their ideas about steps to be taken for improving their income and opportunities.
The government of the southern border provinces have committed funds for the economic development of the poor communities of the South and sought Professor Yunus’ advice on how to design programmes. He elaborated his experiences with creating especially dedicated social business companies and social business joint venture companies to promote agricultural products and for agro processing, in rubber products, for the marketing of agricultural and horticultural products to bring the best prices to the produces, in fishery and fish processing. He also suggested to set up social business funds to provide equity to young entrepreneurs in the region following the Nobin Programme of Bangladesh. The project will be implemented by Yunus Centre and its Thai partner YSBCs at Kasetsart University and Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).
In Bangkok, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus had a courtesy meeting with Mr Grisada Boonrach, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand at the Thailand Agriculture Ministry on 29 January. The Agricultural Minister was interested to hear about the application of social business as defined by Professor Yunus, in various countries. The minister said he was looking forward to discuss some important issues with Professor Yunus. He expressed has satisfaction that Professor Yunus visited the poor region of Thailand in the south. The minister told him that he was the governor of the southern province Pattani for five years. He sees enormous possibility of these Southern provinces. They discussed the potential of social business in solving many of the problems faced by farmers. Professor Yunus discussed social business joint ventures with agricultural companies. The Minister invited the Yunus Centres to hold workshops for the staff of the Ministry in the coming days to help deepen understanding of the concept and practice of social business.
Professor Yunus was accompanied in the meeting as well as his visit to the south by Professor Bordin Rassameethes of Kasetsart University, Dr Faiz Shah of Yunus Center at AIT, Bangkok and Ms Lamiya Morshed of Yunus Centre, Dhaka.
Professor Yunus invited the minister to attend the Social Business Day 2019 on June 28-29 which will be held in Bangkok this year. He highlighted that the event in June will bring together experts who have long experience in social business solving specific agricultural problems around the world. press release
Professor Yunus also spoke at the 57th Annual Conference of Kasetsart University on 30 January and was given a guided tour through the annual Agricultural exhibition at the Kasetsart University campus which brings farmers from all the districts of Thailand to showcase their products.