Thai rice industry are facing severe and serious problems. Thai rice farmers have operated under what is essentially a command economy for generations and have worked increasingly marginal land including deforestation. As the Thai population is increasing day by day, there is a  risk related to water shortage although the government has developed dams and irrigation networks. Global Environment will also be disturbed .

The green Revolution which include the use of hybrid rice seeds and associated chemicals have improved the lives of biliions but it has also led the increase in usage level of pesticides and insecticides, the problem of ‘‘dead zones’’ in estuaries and at sea , the creation of biologically sterile fields

In order to increase the value of Thai rice and to diversify to manage risk the PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has called the farmers to adopt the sustainable agriculture along the lines of His Majesty the King’s Philosophy of the Sufficiency Economy (PSE), including polycultures and organic methods

Properly certified organic processes keep farmers and consumers safer and have less of an impact on the environment.

 

 

But rolling organic rice out on a country-wide basis requires help with transitioning, including certification, successful real-world commercial models and the application of a coherent national strategy  that incorporates the latest thinking on what really is sustainable.

, an officially registered nonprofit organisation established in 1995 by the Alternative Agriculture Network. ACT has its own organic standards and inspection-certification services, such as training, pre-assessment and certification. ACT has received certification and recognition from several national and international organisations.

However, the drawback is that ACT necessarily employs complex systems with associated technical literature, and organic certification requires maintaining a detailed account of farm inputs, processes and outputs if farmers are not to be sanctioned and decertified. Thailand does, nevertheless, already have its own organic success stories, such as Sukha House, which started with exporting organic brown jasmine rice to Singapore, Hong Kong and Brunei and now also produces other varieties, as well as non-rice products.This Singaporean-owned company achieved USDA organic certification with the help of Maejo University’s Institute of Product Quality and Standardisation and subcontracts to individual farmers.

The owner, Cheang Sen Kai, was already a business-savvy entrepreneur due to his previous experience running a steel business. As such, he closely monitored the market, especially in Singapore, and was ready to respond to the growing trend in healthy eating, especially with increased consumer awareness of chemicals in foods due to the health crises coming out of China. Additionally, Mr Cheang works in both English and Chinese and thus can readily access the wider global market. However, even with 3,500 rai under contract, the total output is only around 1,600 tonnes. This is a drop in the ocean compared to the total Thai rice exports this year of approximately 11 million tonnes, and indeed the percent of organic Thai rice is tiny.

Meanwhile, smaller-scale Thai organic farms like Ploen Khao Baan, which promotes organic farming in Suphan Buri province, face significant hurdles in expanding or helping others despite the best efforts of ACT and similar organisations. This brings us to the need for a coherent national strategy for Thailand’s rice industry. Gen Prayut has announced vigorous support for the PSE. At the same time, he seems well aware of the dichotomy facing Thailand’s agricultural system: whether it should embrace a market-led economy or continue to maintain a command economy. His most recent announcements on the glut in the rubber industry and on making 40 billion baht of production-related cash payments to rice farmers illustrate the problem.

Moving to organic requires support. It can be promoted through the existing structure of the PSE, including its specialist research centres, linking up with the existing Thai organic foundations.

he transition to organic can take three years or more, and biologically sterile fields need to be revived. Farmers need to be taught to keep records, to employ new pesticides and to access the global market — meaning the development of co-operatives, incentives for businesses, access to global market platforms, and state-directed risk management, including insurance to cover diseases and pest epidemics.

As it requires education, if schools in rice-growing areas adopt PSE organic projects, they can serve as campuses for teaching students and the wider community about organic techniques. All participating Self-Sufficiency Schools without their own fields could be provided a test field by their communities, allowing children to experiment with growing organic rice themselves

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