Even as regions of Thailand remain embroiled in deep political divisions, the government's One Tambon One Product (OTOP) programme continues to be a way for Muslims throughout the Kingdom to network and gain exposure for halal products.
OTOP, a local entrepreneurship stimulus programme based on Japan's One Village One Product initiative, encourages communities to improve the quality and marketing of local products and to pick one for formal branding under the scheme.
Featuring more than 200 booths, the latest nationwide OTOP exhibition took place on Phuket from November 24th to 30th.
Selling well at the fair was a new halal food snack called roti sai mai (new style roti), made by a community group in Ayutthaya, in Thailand's central plains region.
Business manager Sarayuth Singkha said the confections were bringing in about 25,000 baht ($775) per day in revenue for his group, which attends OTOP fairs nationwide.
"There is a very large Muslim community in Ayutthaya, and the OTOP programme really helps us both financially and also in making contacts and friends with other Muslim groups throughout Thailand that have exhibits here, such as the ones you can see nearby from Yala and Satun. We all know each other now," he told Khabar Southeast Asia.
Another exhibitor was Abul Madbu, who deep-fried his signature product, a confection named "Gonutti", in front of waiting buyers.
The 40-year-old businessman said he drew inspiration for the halal-certified breakfast treat from a kind of fried dough he enjoyed during a trip to Spain. To get the texture just right, he had to design and produce a special deep fryer, he said.
The word "Gonutti" combines syllables from the Thai word for fried dough (Go), the English word "doughnut" (nut), and roti, the ubiquitous flatbread (ti).
"It really has a unique three-in-one flavor," said Abdul, who has shops in Songkhla as well as Surat Thani.
"These OTOP fairs are a great way to gain exposure from products, not just nationwide, but also among foreign tourists. It is also a good way for Muslim communities throughout the Kingdom to get together and network," the Songkhla native said.
At another booth, Mayuree Niyomdecha, from Chana District of Songkhla, was selling a variety of halal condiments produced by a housewives' association in her small village of Ban Baraimaitok. She told Khabar she and her younger sister represented the co-op at several large OTOP festivals, including in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
"We like the chance to travel and we really enjoy coming to Phuket because there are so many interesting tourist spots to visit," she said.
One of the busiest booths at the OTOP fair was selling Halal Japanese sushi, but the products exhibited by Muslim communities were hardly limited to food. There were pearl ornaments from Phang Nga, batik garments from Krabi, herbal remedies from Narathiwat, and many more items.