Tangerine Dreams: Boom and Bust in Northern Thailand
This is a documentary about the tangerine cash crop industry in Northern Thailand and how it has shaped the environment and communities.
The documentary sheds light on the grave impact that a growing middle class across Southeast and East Asia, demanding fresh and juicy fruit can have on the environment. The boom of the industry lead to deforestation and pesticide-related health issues among local communities. The bust that followed soon after, due to lack of effective extension services comparable to those in the West, left many farmers of small and medium sized landholdings heavily indebted. In the absence of multinational NGOs and government assistance, local groups stepped in to stop further deforestation and help farmers switch to new crops that are less draining to the ecology. Especially the strong Buddhist institutions in Northern Thailand played an instrumental role in taking on the task of educating farmers and protecting the environment. The case of the tangerine industry in Northern Thailand that this documentary outlines, is thus important to the field of economic sociology and may be an example of how local communities react to far-sweeping changes result of rapid economic development.