The peasant farming system of the Chiangmai valley was established more than 700 years ago with the majority of agricultural communities located across the intermontane basins of the Upper Ping River. These lowland settlements of Chiangmai Valley and their subsistence livelihoods had been built based on animism belief, sustainable natural resources management with population control, strategic geographic locations, and landscape planning strategies. Muang Fai networks, the traditional nature-based irrigation systems was an essential community component in the rice fields of the valley to control the crop productions, population growth in the communities, due to water limitations in the region. These networks have long been operated locally by social networks and multilevel coordination within the river networks with local knowledge and spirit cult.

Today, The agricultural communities of Chiangmai valley have experienced substantial socioeconomic and political changes in the past century as a part of nation-building. The communities that were based on subsistence-oriented production with limited resources have transformed into agroindustry with modern irrigation schemes, tourism industry, and rapid urbanization. The water resources are no longer sufficient for everyone. This has also drastically altered the river ecology and the livelihoods of the locals who have inhabited along the Ping River and its tributaries for many centuries.