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A Historical Overview of Danish Assistance to Thailand

This is an overview of the Danish development assistance to Thailand 1962-2009. In the beginning, Danish development assistance only focused on agriculture with the objective of giving Thailand assistance in starting up modern farming. However, as time went by, the development cooperation between Denmark and Thailand came to include a wide range of initiatives in different areas and sectors.

Thai-Danish Dairy Farm

At the end of the 1950s, the Danish agronomist Mr. Gunnar Søndergaard worked in Thailand where he saw the possibility of starting up a milk production. At the time there was no commercial Thai milk production, and therefore he persued the idea of establishing a farm and a dairy as well as an agricultural school in the country.

In the meantime, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand visited Europe in 1960. During the visit he personally witnessed how the Danish agribusiness worked and learned about the agrarian history of Denmark, and the King was very impressed with the Danish agricultural production.

King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit visited Denmark in 1960

Mr. Gunnars Søndergaard's work in Thailand led the Danish Farmer’s Association (Landbrugsrådets Afsætningsudvalg) to grant a complex of stables housing more than 160 cattles to the people of Thailand. Contracts were exchanged for technical and financial support between the Thai Government and the Danish Farmer's Association. Moreover, the Danish Farmer's Association assisted by setting up the Thai-Danish Dairy Farm (TDDF), a dairy, and an agricultural training centre in the Muak Lek district 150 kilometres north of Bangkok.

The TDDF was financed through the Danish Farmer's Association and later the Danish International Development Assistance (Danida) programme and was inaugurated on 16 January 1962 by King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and King Frederik IX of Denmark.

The activities of the TDDF included purchase of cattle, construction of farm buildings, training of farmers, development of a dairy colony, provision of extension services and development of a small dairy plant as well as a marketing system for pasteurized milk products. Mr. Gunnar Søndergaard was appointed day-to-day manager. This was the first Danida project in Thailand.

In the spring of 1962, 39 heads of red dairy cattle intended to form the livestock of the farm were shipped from Denmark to Thailand. In 1963 additionally 50 heads of red dairy cattle were imported.

However, the TDDF faced big challenges. The Danish dairy cattle could not adjust to the new conditions - they could not get acclimatized, they caught many diseases, and often suffered from insect pests. As a result, a lot of cattle died, and the staff on the farm began to interbreed both local and Pakistani cattle with the Danish cattle. The result was a new breed able to live in Thailand while maintaining a satisfactory milk producing capacity. This mixed breed of Thai and Danish cattle is the reason why today Thai-Danish Milk still has red dairy cattle on the milk cartons.

Søndergaard visited the agricultural schools in Thailand and picked out students for the one year training programmes at the new agricultural school in Muak Lek. Many of the students achieved scholarships in Denmark and some of them even decided to stay in Denmark after their scholarships ended. However, most of the students returned to Thailand where they were offered to buy cheap farmland around the dairy farm. Hereby the new farmers could start their own milk production. The farmers were still allowed to deliver milk to the dairy farm and to receive guidance, courses and veterinary treatment. Today, many of the students from the 1960’s are managing directors in the Thai dairy sector.

In 1971, the Thai government took over the responsibilities, and the project was organized under the management of a newly established enterprise named "The Dairy Farming Promotion Organization of Thailand" (DPO).

This project in Thailand was a huge success, and there is a general agreement that "The Danish Farm" has been fundamental for the development of the Thai dairy sector. Furthermore, "The Danish Farm" has affected the everyday life for the thousands of families who increased their income and wellbeing due to increase in milk production and sales.

Development assistance after the Thai-Danish Dairy Farm

Since this project, Denmark has implemented many developing projects in Thailand. Thailand was a programme country until the mid-1990s when it became a middle-income country. In the some 40 years many different kinds of projects were financed through Danida. The projects cover a wide field and almost every sector in Thailand has been affected by the Danish programme. The overall objectives of all these projects were to improve the daily life of the Thai people and improve the environmental situation in Thailand. To show the diversity in the aid given, different kinds of former projects are described in the following section.

Tree seed production and distribution

Through the years, the Danish government has implemented different kinds of projects aiming at improving the tree seed production and distribution in Thailand. In the beginning, the aim of the projects was to improve reproductive material to supply raw material for the industry. In the period 1965-1975, Danida supported development and dissemination of genetic improved teak through the Danish Forest Seed Centre’s projects on genetics and breeding of teak. One of the major activities has been mapping patterns of genetic variation in order to select superior seed sources. Studies have also included reproductive genetics and domestication strategies.

Because of this and many similar projects in other countries, Denmark is internationally recognised for our long lasting role in teak research, and our effort to make the knowledge about teak available to developing countries. The Teak Centre in Thailand is still today operating on a mix of public funding and income generation from sales of reproductive material.

Another tree seed project is the Pine Improvement Centre (1975-1985). The pine breeding programme in Thailand increased tree production, but the programme ceased because it was meant to serve pulp and paper production plants that never materialised.


Budding of teak by "open-two-flap" technique

Tree breeding and gene conservation of valuable tropical hardwoods were without any doubt pioneering, provident and foresighted programmes. However, in some ways, they turned out to be ahead of their time. The continued availability of these species from natural forest limited the interest in investment. The last natural teak forests, however, have now almost disappeared, and the interest in plantation development is growing dramatically.

Phuket Marine Biological Centre

In October 1968, Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC) was established under a bilateral agreement between the governments of Thailand and Denmark. The first bilateral agreement (covering a 5 year period) was signed by the governments of Thailand and Denmark on October 16th, 1968. This was followed with a reduced contribution from the Danish government by a second agreement (for 4 years), and lastly a third agreement which ended in 1983.

The main objective of the PMBC was to carry out research on marine and coastal resources in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand and to educate the young generation and the public regarding the importance of sustainable uses of natural resources. The studies included systematic ecological studies, oceanography and studies on marine pollution with emphasis in mangrove, seagrass bed, and coral reef ecosystems. Reference Collection and Phuket Aquarium supported education and raised public awareness of the need for conservation and the sustainable use of resources by encouraging public participation and networking.

Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC) was established in 1968

The Centre was transferred from Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, in accordance with the Thai government agency reform of October 3, 2002.

Centres for the Hearing Impaired

In the early 1990’s two centres for resources and services for the hearing impaired were supported by Danida. The main objective of the project was to improve the quality of life for hearing impaired students. The strategy was to set up two assessment and resource centres: one centre at Sethsatian for the Deaf, Bangkok, and one centre at Chonburi School for the Deaf. The objectives of the resource centres were to be comprehensive centres of rehabilitation for the hearing impaired and to provide hearing evaluation and audiological diagnosis. Further objectives were to provide hearing aids and associated equipment and maintenance and spares service and to provide guidance and counselling services for hearing impaired persons and their families.

Women Education Centre

Danida supported the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women (APSW) from 1996 until 1999.

The overall development objectives to which the project was related were to promote the status of destitute women, to strengthen the women’s role and to promote equal opportunities between women and men. The immediate objectives of the project were to strengthen the management and organisation of APSW through institutional support and consulting services.

Environmental cooperation 1994-2009

In the middle of the 1990's Thailand became a middle-income country. Consequently, the official bilateral development cooperation between Denmark and Thailand was phased out.

However, as a follow-up to the Rio Conference in 1992, Denmark provided special bilateral environmental assistance to countries in Southern Africa and Southeast Asia. The objective of the special facility, The Special Environmental Assistance, has been to co-operate with countries in order to promote sustainable development and to support efforts to mitigate the effects of environmental pollution and the pressure on natural resources. The Thai-Danish cooperation on environment and sustainable development was initiated in 1994.

The aim of the Thai-Danish cooperation programme was to support the Thai government’s effort in building capacity to promote environmental protection and sustainable development and thereby improve people’s quality of life through e.g. training, awareness and demonstration projects. The programme also supported non-governmental organisations, the private sector and the research sector in Thailand.

Key areas for the cooperation were:

    • Urban environment and industrial pollution
    • Sustainable production and use of energy
    • Sustainable use of natural resources (including water)


The environmental cooperation between Thailand and Denmark officially ended 31 December 2009. With this more than 45 years of development cooperation between Thailand and Denmark has come to an end.

Former Ambassador of Denmark, H.E. Mr. Michael Sternberg, opens Biological Wastewater Treatment
Systems in Nonthaburi Municipality.
For further information on the different types of development projects supported by Danida in Thailand, see the links in the left side menu.

Danish development assistance to Thailand 1962-2009

The table below shows how much developemnt assistance Denmark has contributed to Thailand in bot nominal and fixed prices.

Year

Norminal terms

Fixed prices

Year

Norminal terms

Fixed prices

Million DKK

Million

2007-DKK

Million DKK

Million

2007-DKK

1962

N/A

N/A

1986

69.70

115.04

1963

N/A

N/A

1987

51.00

80.94

1964

N/A

N/A

1988

20.98

31.86

1965

N/A

N/A

1989

16.20

23.48

1966

1.01

8.26

1990

27.43

38.74

1967

0.61

4.66

1991

31.50

43.45

1968

1.85

13.08

1992

60.04

81.11

1969

1.85

12.63

1993

46.11

61.49

1970

3.50

22.43

1994

101.95

133.30

1971

4.11

24.84

1995

62.12

79.55

1972

4.98

28.23

1996

51.78

64.95

1973

3.80

19.71

1997

114.18

140.13

1974

3.42

15.40

1998

16.30

19.65

1975

3.28

13.47

1999

140.68

165.46

1976

2.95

11.12

2000

175.02

200.05

1977

4.99

16.91

2001

23.58

26.32

1978

2.18

6.73

2002

9.72

10.60

1979

5.35

15.08

2003

-12.37

-13.21

1980

5.25

13.15

2004

16.70

17.62

1981

5.68

12.74

2005

112.95

117.05

1982

3.75

7.63

2006

76.06

77.35

1983

9.74

18.55

2007

38.82

38.82

1984

N/A

N/A

2008

N/A

N/A

1985

61.79

105.76

2009

N/A

N/A

The development assistance includes technical assistance and grants (1966-1968); grants (1969-1984); projects, other untied assistance and tied financial assistance (1985-1989); project assistance, other grants, other assistance, loans to developing countries and IFU’s share deposit (1990-1998); project- and programme assistance and other assistance (1999-2003); project- and programme assistance, nongovernmental assistance and other assistance (2004-2009).

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