“Honor the King’s Legacy 2019” Project: Teaching Students to be a True Provider

Report Post

In “Honor the King’s Legacy 2019” project, Nissan gives students in their third year or above the opportunity to demonstrate their designing, marketing, branding, and communication strategies. The students get a chance to work with the locals to tackle challenges faced by the community using the concepts and philosophy of sufficiency economy established by his Majesty King Bhumibol.

Honor the King’s Legacy 2019 aims for the contestants to give more than receive. The students have to use their creativity, and planning skills in sustainability and upcycling, develop a practical and innovative sustainable solution for specific waste problems in these communities. These ideas and solutions will create a sustainable community, that can continue to develop and prosper in the long run. For the students who join this competition, they will get far more than just the prizes. They will get the knowledge and real-life skills from the project workshops, experts, real-life experience, and leading innovative intelligence. Besides the skills and knowledge, this program is also a great opportunity to further the students’ skills as well as building a strong relationship between students and communities, experts, and each other, in a way that will help equip them to excel in their future.

In the final round, the finalists from Chiangmai University, Mahasarakham University, Chiang Rai Ratchapat University, King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang and two finalist teams from Thammasat University, collaborated with three communities in Chantaburi province: Baan Namsai, Baan Namjone, and Baan Takadngao. They develop a practical and innovative sustainable solution for specific waste problems in these communities to create a sustainable community.

Senior Consultant and Program Manager, Food Innopolis, National Science & Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) Dr. Porramate Chumyim said that “This is a fantastic opportunity for students to work with the community, response to community demands and helped solve problems. Working directly with the community is a very good thing because sometimes what we want to do is not what the community wanted. Students have to talk to the locals and by putting the community at the heart of their practical innovations, products and service will truly creating a sustainable community.”

The three communities in Chantaburi province: Baan Namsai, Baan Namjone, and Baan Takadngao, each has its problem. Baan Namsai, one of the excellent community of Chantaburi, gains a lot of attention from public and private sectors to be the place for their learning projects, resulting in an overwhelming amount of plastic waste that cannot be degraded with the current system. Not to mention the problems in waste collecting system from the peripheral areas and waste incineration that seriously threaten peoples’ health. At Baan Namjone, there are tons of organic waste from durian and mangosteen that fell from the tree before they were ripe. Those fruits cannot be sold, and the locals have to trim the trees as well as incinerate the branches and the fruits. Oyster is one of the best products of Baan Takadngao. Some people earn their living by selling oysters, resulting in a pile of oyster shells. The community tried to solve the problem by turning those shells into lime for acid neutralization in shrimp farming pond, but the oyster shells are still an aggravating problem. The Baan Takadngao community is worried that the pile of oyster shells is going to be a bigger environmental problem in the future since the shells are not easily degraded.

Kanchana Kothong, a third-year student in Department of Marketing, Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy, Thammasat University, said that she participated in “Honor the King’s Legacy 2019” because she wanted to challenge herself to do something that she had never done before, especially designing products and working with the locals. Her team is a collaboration between students from the Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy and Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, Thammasat University. She added that her team decided to present the “Banana Leaf Sheaves Cup Sleeve” to reduce plastic waste. To create a project from this idea, we have to work hard, talk to the community around our university, teachers, and experts to learn more about the use of banana leaf sheaves, the possibilities, and the production process. When the team presented the project, judges commented that the project is not outstanding, and they have to improve their skills in both product planning and marketing. She said that “These comments are invaluable, and we use them to improve our work in the field survey in the final round.”

Kanchana also said, “We are interested in the Baan Takadngao community. Takadngao has a problem with waste from oyster shells. Some of the locals work as oyster fishermen and that resulted in a pile of oyster shells. Our team interested in the sea and this problem and then we soon realized that the shells are not easy to deal with. By talking to the locals, we learned that there are many ways we can utilize the shells. The community had tried turning them into lime to use as an acid neutralizer in shrimp farming pond, but they did not always do it and there is still a lot of shell waste all over the community. After discussing, we work on brainstorming and planning for our project, to figure out how should we do it to solve the community problem.”

From the Department of Accounting, Faculty of Accountancy and Management, Mahasarakham University, Kityarat Surichai, and Jariya Swangsuk, third-year students, said that they participated in this program because they want to gain some working experiences. Their first project is inspired by the problem of people in Bonrabue District Mahasarakham. In Bonrabue, there is around 2500 rai (4 square kilometers) of Jicama (Mexican Yam), and every year there are around 30% of the crops that are not up to selling standard and have to be discarded. The students said that “Our idea is to take those jicamas and turned them into “Jicama cider”. We want to make use of those unwanted crops, turning them into something like the famous apple cider could add a lot of market value to them, because apple cider is known for its health benefit and health is one of the big ongoing trends in the world. Our project is still on the planning stage when we submitted it to the judges, who commented about the possibilities in making and marketing the product. We consider all the comments for the final round.”

The students also added that “For the field survey, we have a chance to talk to people in the Baan Namjone community. The community has many durian and mangosteen orchards, they have to face the long-standing problem, throwing the crops that do not meet the standards in terms of size. Not to mention the chemical fertilizer, even though some decided to stop using chemical fertilizer, because of health concerns such as skin disease, cancer, and respiratory disease, most of the locals still do not interested in using an organic fertilizer since they are afraid that it will affect their crop and their revenue.

Mahasarakham University students also added that “After the survey, we learned that what we and the locals think is different. What we wanted to do is not something that they want to do. Initially, we wanted to turn the organic waste into organic fertilizer, but they think it is not a good idea and it will be a waste of time because their fertilizer is working just fine. So, we decided to ask them what if we come up with some kind of product, they said they will be interested as long as it can generate more revenue. Once we figured the detail of the product we will need to consult with a scientist with the help from Faculty of Science, and we also have to work on the marketing detail that would satisfy the people in the community as well, because if our plan cannot satisfy the people need, it is not going to create a sustainable solution for the community.”

After the survey, Nissan (Thailand) and Dr. Porramate Chumyim, Senior Consultant and Program Manager, Food Innopolis, NSTDA, hosted the Design Thinking Workshops to foster design ideas and strategies that will further their upcycle planning as well as creating a curated business plan that resonates with the community’s need. There will also be more workshops in designing, marketing, branding as well as storytelling from the experts in each field.