INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT - Samran and Wandee Horhum

Samran and Wandee Horhum are a family of Tenant Shrimp Farmers in the Songkhla province of Thailand.


What is your occupation? How much is your income? How long have you worked this job? What did you do before getting this job?

(Samran) I used to live at Nakorn Sri Thammarat. My hometown was Ban Ta Tanod. I worked as a stove maker for about 10 years but couldn't get enough money for living so I had to move to this village. I married my wife here. Before, there was not a shrimp farm, my wife was a rice farmer, but it did not work well. We did not earn enough money. Then we sold our land to a shrimp farm and became employees on the shrimp farm. I have worked on the shrimp farm for seven to eight years. My salary is between 6,000 and 7,000 bahts per month, but it's never more than this.

Please tell us about your life in the former time when you were a rice farmer and compare it to now?

(Wandee)Which period is better? I think the former time was better. It was easier to find food.

(Samran) Back then it was more fertile. There was fresh water. It was easier for living. Now it is saltwater. Freshwater fish don't like saltwater. After having shrimp farms, the seawater begins to intrude there. It is difficult to find fresh water fish any more, all the fish disappeared. Those who could not escape died. Fresh water fish need their own habitat, they can't survive in saltwater. Now we can only buy them from the market.

How about your income compared with before?

(Samran) I think it is not different. When I was a rice farmer, the cost of living was cheap and we could live. Now, everything is expensive, but we get just a little bit more money. We can't afford things, time to time. After shrimp is harvested, the ponds are left empty for 2 months. The owner then decreases my salary from 7,000 bahts to 3,500 bahts a month. My salary is cut by half during this period. For the percentage income, it depends on the production. Usually, the owners give no more than three bahts for each kilogram of production; some give 2 bahts/kg, the rates is often different. Some farm owners give only one baht/kg. Some owners give in percentages, only 1% or 2%. It depends on the satisfaction of the farm owner.

Can you tell us how everything was when you were young?

(Samran) I wish things were that way now.

(Wandee) I wish it could be as the former time. When I was the rice farmer after we finished harvesting the rice crop, we continued beating rice to peel the grain and then separated grain. It was happier than now.

How about the environment when you were young?

(Wandee) It was more livable.

It was more livable and more comfortable. Everywhere was greenish by the paddy field. Now all we can see is just pond water. It looks like the sea. The grass all died, even the sugar palm died because of the seawater.

What do you expect for the future of your children?

(Wandee)With my career, I cannot hope anything for my children. I cannot expect my children to have a good education.

(Samran) Because our income is uncertain, we can not hope anything for the future. If we get certain income, then we can expect the future. If we plan for our kids and accomplish our goals, we will be very glad. But right now, we cannot expect anything because of our uncertainty.

If you still work as rice farmers, do you think you can expect a good future for your kids?

(Wandee) It is all the same. It is also uncertain. Sometimes the field was flooded, sometimes it was drought. It also is uncertain as same as working in the shrimp farm. We are the same hopeless.