Why The Farmer's Daughter Had To Leave The Farm
Farming is a fragile industry, even in this day and age of machinery, testing and forecasting.
There is no certain way of knowing whether the farm will make a profit in any year, even if everything looks
rosy a week before harvest.
In fact, in many ways, the last couple of weeks are the most tense time for arable farmers.
A violent gale, a hurricane or even a heavy down pour can ruin crops and an outbreak of disease can hit both
arable and dairy farmers. Farming is a hit or miss business.
That is not to run down the ability of farmers. Far from it. In order to run a profitable farm, farmers need to
be on top of modern technology and have excellent knowledge of their crops or livestock, yet anything can go wrong,
even at the last moment.
And here I am talking about the farmers in the West, who are the richest, most educated and most heavily
subsidised farmers in the world.
So, what about farmers in the Third World?
This book, Behind The Smile, is the story of Lek, a farmer's daughter from the rice belt in northern Thailand.
Her family is a typical Thai family in the area. Not rich; not rich by any standards except by that of the
people working for them casually.
Most years, they made a profit, but it only took a couple of bad crops in succession to ruin them. That was not
the reason for Lek's family's fall from grace though.
Lek's father had borrowed money at a punitive rate and then died suddenly with no insurance. In fact, the
family hadn't even known about the loan until a letter arrived after the funeral.
The choices were few: either sell land to pay the bank off; let the bank foreclose or for someone to go to the city
to earn better money.
At a family conference, they chose the last course of action and that meant that Lek, at the age of 22 would
have to go to Pattaya to work in her cousin's bar, Daddy's Hobby. The family was devastated, but selling any land
would only put off ultimate ruin for a few years.
Lek could earn enough money in a month to pay off a monthly instalment of the bank loan and keep the wolf
from the door, so off she went.
However, Lek realised that she was pregnant and, after having her baby, a girl, she gave her to her mother
to take care of and went back to Daddy's Hobby in Pattaya.
Now she needed even more money and the only option that she could see was the sex tourism industry. She soon
drifted into that seamier side of life.
The first book in the series 'Behind The Smile', Daddy's Hobby, tells, from Lek's point of view, how a
simple farmer's daughter had to cope with a lifestyle that should not have been hers and how she tried to get
out of it again in order to spend more time with her daughter who was 500 km away in her village.
by Owen Jones