Writer: Atthawit Watcharapongchai, Better Rice Initiative Asia
Thailand’s Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Agricultural and Cooperatives (MoAC) recently received representatives from Better Rice Initiative Asia and ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems to exchange views in sustainable agriculture production and discuss potential future collaborations in the country. The meeting was the first of its kind among the three parties, and also attended by representatives from Rice Department (RD), and private partners from Olam International, BASF, and Bayer.
Deputy Minister Chutima Bunyapraphasaia of the MoAC expressed her interests in the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) Standard on Sustainable Rice Cultivation which regarded as the world’s first sustainability standard for rice which Better Rice Initiative Asia (BRIA) supports its development and adopts in BRIA’s pilot countries including Thailand.
BRIA has been conducting pilot studies as part of the SRP’s multi-country field validation programme to assess the applicability, relevance, and acceptability of the standard to BRIA farmers as well as piloting the implementation of assurance schemes including the Internal Management System (IMS) for farmer groups in key rice producing countries.
In Thailand BRIA together with RD, OLAM International, and Bayer have jointly initiated a pilot testing of the SRP Standard with farmer groups in the North-Eastern province of Ubon Ratchathani. The pilot testing conducted in 2016 covered an assessment of the applicability of the standard, farmer training, establishment of an IMS, and a group assurance system.
During the meeting on 7 March 2017, Ms Chutima also learned about BRIA training activities in the Northeast provinces including Ubon Rathcathani, Srisaket, Surin, and Roi-Et, Farmer’s Love series which is a capacity building programme for Thai farmers through Channel 5 Television, technology being implemented in the field to increase farmer income by 20 per cent, as well as the SRP value chain, and its significance in producing the first certified sustainable rice globally. Another significant topic was the data management system being developed under BRIA together with Olam and RD which allows farmers to use a mobile phone App to enter data on field practices and production costs which is stored into a larger database for information management.
Deputy Minister Chutima was impressed by BRIA’s “Data Base Management System and Application” in achieving the outcome and agreed that BRIA project closely aligns with the MoAC’s policy orientation for improving farmers’ livelihood and supporting ‘large field’ (also known as ‘mega farm’) projects and
In discussing further integration between BRIA activities and MoAC policies, regular meetings, therefore, will be held for a number of two to three times a year.