Thailand’s grass-roots arts & craft, OTOP, hit US$2 billion sales a year; But to recover from Abhisit shun?

IMG_0031 OTOP Parade.

IMG_0031 OTOP Parade. (Photo credit: ol’pete)

One thing, that for a very long time was standard economic and business saying about Thailand, is that quote: “Politicians comes are go, but Thai policy stays to same.” That, used to be the truth about Thailand. But on one policy, that is of great benefit to Thailand, especially the disadvantage segment of the Thai population, being the grass-roots and their arts and craft community product, OTOP, the changing mood of Thailand was most destructive. Under Thaksin and the various governments close to him, they went promoting OTOP to the maximum, and it caught on, with OTOP fair, staged at even at Thailand’s largest convention halls, packed with the Thai people. And growth of the OTOP sales was taking off massively. OTOP, became a program that is identified with Thaksin. However, when Abhisit Dems became the government of Thailand, there was an intentional effort to erase all things Thaksin from the Thais memory, and one casualty, is that Abhisit place little focus and efforts on OTOP, as Abhisit is mostly about city folks and not the grass-rots community. So OTOP, from practically zero when Thaksin stepped in, and started to grow it into a national efforts, and was taking off significantly, for that about 3 years Thailand was under Abhisit, OTOP went into a black hole, and very much died away. When Yingluck became the Thai prime minister two years ago, OTOP was revised again. Latest is that last year sales of OTOP product top US$2 billion, and Yingluck is targeting about US$3 billion in a few years. But if one was to be “Straight and Fair” in an assessment, OTOP today, the fact is OTOP is just struggling to regain its popularity, as it once enjoy during the Thaksin administration.

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