Knock Knock: Thailand and Germany team up for cooperation in improving Thailand’s Agriculture sector

Agriculture cooperation in five specific areas were discussed between Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) of Thailand and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the first Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties can be on its way.

GIZ, as known for its German technical expertise on sustainable development, was sought for collaborations and supports in the five following topics in Thailand’s agriculture.

1. Certification of Rubber Wood Tree

MoAC is promoting harvesting rubber tree for wood plank and/or product. For this to be accepted by international trade, the wood would need a certification to ensure that it is harvested from sustainable forest management. As certification requires a lot of auditors, which are currently lacking in the country, thus, MoAC is requesting possibility for technical cooperation in support of training of the auditors to support this policy.

2. Sustainable Crop Insurance

Although, Thailand has a long history of rice insurance scheme which has been evolving, but still facing challenges in meeting the need of farmers. Therefore, MoAC is exploring a possibility to improve the current scheme in terms of loss assessment process by applying remote-sensing technology in order to fasten the claim process, expansion of agriculture insurance to other crops, and establishment of mid-term or long-term agriculture insurance scheme.

3. Solar Farm Development

Thailand is facing an issue of access to energy in rural areas for farmers and rural community. As Thailand has around 4.4 million rai of small distributed saline soil areas, which adversely affect the growth of most crops, in northeastern Thailand. Therefore, the areas are suitable for developing small-scale solar farm which will help improve farmer livelihood by providing access to renewable energy and reducing cost of fossil fuel consumption.

4. Carbon-minus Community Development

Carbon-minus Community could be defined as a community that reduces carbon footprint to less than neutral, so that the community has a net effect of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more than adding it. There is a potential that the GIZ’s pipeline project ‘Climate-Smart and Environmental Friendly Agricultural Waste Management Management’ could contribute to the development of carbon-minus community. The project concept is to transform current practice of burning agricultural wastes (i.e. rice straw and maize stalk) towards sustainable agricultural waste management (i.e. biochar, biocompost, and biomass energy) which will contribute to GHG mitigation.

5. ASEAN Guidelines on Soil and Nutrient Management and ASEAN Soil Partnership (ASP)

MoAC expressed appreciation to the work of GIZ in developing the ASEAN Guidelines on Soil and Nutrient Management (SNM) which has been endorsed by the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in September 2017. The guideline provides policy recommendations and sustainable practices gathered from the experiences of the ASEAN Member States in maintaining and improving soil productivity for optimal crop production. Hence, MoAC sought support from GIZ in contributing to strengthening ASEAN Soil Partnership (ASP). This includes the mechanism for activity implementation, the establishment of Asia Pacific Soil Excellence Center in Thailand, and financial support.

In strengthening the collaborations on these five topics, GIZ will seek direct contacts with relevant departments under MoAC for further discussion and follow up.

The ‘MoAC and GIZ cooperation’ Meeting was organized by MoAC on 3rd May 2018 at MoAC in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs, Assistant to Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives as a chairperson of the Meeting on behalf of Mr. Theeraphat Prayurasiddhi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. There were 38 participants which are representatives from GIZ and representatives from various departments under MoAC which are Agricultural Land Reform Office, Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, Cooperative Promotion Department, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Extension, Land Development Department, Office of Agricultural Economics, Royal Forest Department, and Rubber Authority of Thailand.

By Santikorn Pakdeesettakul and Rojana Manowalailao, ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems