Writer: Montree Promaluksan, Field Manager, Better Rice Initiative Asia (BRIA) – Thailand
For decades, the farm sector has been a driving engine behind Thailand’s economic growth. Every government has come up with many policies to better the quality of life of rural farmers.
But why are Thai rice farmers not wealthy as a consequence?
Despite the hardship, rice farmers continue to plant rice because they have farming in their blood and grow up close to the farm. Rice is so vital to the Thai society, especially in the northeastern region where rice is a way of life.
For five years, I have been a part of Better Rice Initiative Asia (BRIA), which is now on its phase II. I regularly visit farmers in more than 150 villages in Ubon Ratchathani, Srisaket, Surin and Roi Et. I do not doubt why most of them still live in poverty. It is not just about struggling to earn more money but lacking technical know-how to make a living from rice farming in the long term.
My team and I are making sure every small farmer we met understands and applies Good Agricultural Practice or GAP, which covers not only food safety, but also environmental standards.
Thai farmers are capable to bring positive change and right now more than 4,200 small-scale farmers in Ubon Ratchathani and Surin are learning more about the concepts of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), the world’s first voluntary sustainability standard for rice and adapting their practices to prove that their small-scale rice farming can be a profitable business.
I feel the wind of change is coming. Nowadays, in every village I go, there are more farmers who grow rice more sustainably and earn more income, while at the same time enjoying good health.
And this change I believe will continue.