Farmers from Suvarnabhumi district of Roi Et province, Thailand put a smile on their faces while sharing their crop development with a team of rice experts from Thai Rice Department and GIZ.
Lampiang Suikong from the Thai province of Roi-Et grins from ear to ear as she talks about the positive results that have come about from the changes she has made in her rice farming practice.
The 38-year-old female farmer who lives in Thung Kula Rong Hai (Kula crying field) and whose rice fields have long been hit hard by drought no longer struggles to produce quality rice.
“I thought the fertiliser I had used for years was good enough until I joined the training. Over the past few months, I have learned to better control and eliminate weeds, monitor pests, apply the appropriate fertiliser, and improve soil fertility,” said Ms. Lampiang from Baan Ta Yuak, Suvarnabhumi district.
Ms. Lampiang is one of several farmers in the Northeast of Thailand who has attended a series of training sessions through a public and private partnership cooperation called the Sustainable Aromatic Rice Initiative (SARI) Thailand project.
Ms. Lampiang’s latest yields are 700 kilogrammes per rai, a 40% increase over last year.
“I take great care in every aspect of my farming because I also eat the rice I grow”, Ms. Lampiang said. “Farmers need to change farming practices because the world is changing. We need to apply what we learn from the training alongside our traditional cultivation methods.”
She explained that farmers in Thung Kula Rong Hai, which covers areas in five provinces in the northeastern region of Thailand, are facing climate change and that this is likely to further intensify.
“Climate change is getting worse and it badly affects those of us who live in rain-dependent areas.”
Ms. Lampiang decided to take part in the newly launched project, a joint initiative of food companies Mars Food, Herba- Bangkok (Ebro Foods), the Thai Rice Department and GIZ Thailand, to provide local farmers with the skills and knowledge to develop high-quality and sustainable Hom Mali rice with a climate-smart system to lessen the impacts of climate change.
The project aims to support 1,200 rice growers from each of the 12 community rice centres in Roi-Et province in the production of 3,500 metric tonnes of Hom Mali rice through the introduction of a Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) value chain.
The SRP is a multi-stakeholder platform established to promote sustainability in supply chains in the global rice sector, including research, policy making, production, trade and consumption.
In Roi-Et, the project also cooperates with the millers to open collection points, which Ms. Lampiang says has helped cut her transport costs.
As the quality of Ms. Lampiang’s rice started to show improvement, many of her farmer friends in the same village expressed their interest in joining the project.
Kannika Boonrod, a 52-year-old leader of one of eight villages joining this harvest season, explained that as well as raising crops and earnings, the project also strengthens cooperation and unity among the community’s members, especially when it comes to having women in the decision-making circles.
Apichart Pongsrihadulchai, chief adviser to the Rice Department (center) talks to participating farmers of the Sustainable Hom Mali Rice project at a hall in Suvarnabhumi district of Roi Et
“Nearly 100 per cent of the participating farmers from her village are women. They work alongside the men,” Ms Kannika said.
The project has provided an opportunity for female farmers to join, attend the training courses and be selected as members of the group committee, so they feel they can share their thoughts in their families and their community. They are more confident now that they are part of community development.