Suphan Buri / 9 May 2022 – H.E. Mr. Georg Schmidt, Ambassador of Germany to Thailand and Mr. Varawut Silpa-Archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), together with Ms. Lioba Donner, Policy Officer for Thailand, Division International Climate Initiative (IKI), General Issues of Bilateral Cooperation, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), visited the pilot areas of the Thai Rice NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) project in Doem Bang Nang Buat district of Suphan Buri province where innovative low-emission farming techniques have been introduced to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice production while increasing production efficiency. In an exchange with local farmers, the delegation discussed how sustainable farming can help increase rice productivity and farmers’ income while contributing to greenhouse gas mitigation and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
The visit was joined by Mr. Natthapat Suwanprateep, Suphan Buri Governor, Mr. Phirun Saiyasitpanich, the Secretary-General of the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) and Dr. Apichart Pongsrihadulchai, Advisor to the Director-General of the Rice Department.
Rice is important as it is cultivated on roughly half of all agricultural land in Thailand and accounts for nearly 55% of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture. Thailand is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of rice-related greenhouse gases. Therefore, the Rice Department focuses on developing a sustainable rice strategy and promoting the ‘3 Increases, 3 Decreases’ campaign. Rice smallholders and agripreneurs are encouraged to adopt farming techniques and innovations to increase rice yields, rice quality and revenue while decreasing production costs, water consumption and ultimately GHG emissions to improve quality of life and livelihoods while preserving the environment vulnerable to global warming.
The delegation visited a demonstration of the Laser Land Leveling (LLL) Technique which is one of four techniques in sustainable farming, which comprise LLL technology, Alternate Wetting and Drying, Site Specific Nutrient Management, and Straw and Stubble Management. The LLL technology is one of the key evidence-based approaches that help farmers increase rice yields and save water while reducing soil surface depletion and GHG emissions.
The approaches of sustainable, low-emission farming are also in line with the Glasgow Climate Pact of the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26), held in Glasgow, Scotland last year and will support Thailand’s announcement at COP26 of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 and aiming for net-zero GHG emissions by 2065.
Mr. Varawut Silpa-Archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment said: “If we are to drive Thailand towards carbon neutrality and achieve the intentions announced by the Prime Minister at COP26, three factors must be addressed. One is that we receive financial support from developed countries or our partners, the second is that we benefit from technology transfer, and the last factor is capacity building. This is what we need from other countries to make Thailand carbon neutral. Even though we produce less than 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, we are one of the countries most affected by climate change,”
“Today, we are asking for cooperation on these three elements, which are the factors that will allow Thailand to be one of the leaders in solving climate change problems in ASEAN and in our region.” Mr. Varawut added.
Mr. Natthapat Suwanprateep, Suphan Buri Governor emphasised that Suphan Buri is considered an agricultural province. In the preparation of our strategic plans, we set indicators for development guidelines. And agriculture is one of the main elements that we must address. “Ultimately, we will take action to reach the goal of farmers in Suphan Buri so that they have increased productivity and income as well as better livelihoods.”
Regarding the financial support, Mr. Natthapat added “We have received international support, for example, through the NAMA Facility. We were also supported by initial funding to help improve the farming conditions of agriculturalists and shifting from the traditional way to an innovative way that is environmentally friendly.”
The Thai Rice NAMA project is funded by the NAMA Facility with the Governments of Germany and United Kingdom as main donors. The project is implemented by the Rice Department (RD) on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC), the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and other partner agencies. The objective is to support Thai rice farmers in 6 provinces in Central Thailand, namely Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani and Suphan Buri, amounting to 100,000 farmer households, to have access to farming technology to increase the efficiency of rice production and shift to low-emission rice production. The project has a five-year period of implementation from August 2018 – August 2023.
Ms. Lioba Donner from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) said: “First of all, I would like to express great it is to be here today to see the Rice NAMA project being implemented. It’s one of our IKI projects and within the NAMA facility. Thailand is a really key partner for us in the International Climate Initiative in which we have 34 projects overall. And it’s just great to see the techniques such as Laser Land Levelling, and the Wetting and Drying, being implemented,”
“It is a good opportunity for them to have higher yields and therefore higher income. I think it is a very good project and I am so happy to be here today. And yes, we look very much forward to continuing our cooperation and to supporting Thailand with this ambitious commitment.” Ms. Lioba added.
Ms. Sawanee Phorang, Pilot farmer of Thai Rice NAMA project said: “Before we joined the project, the cost was 5,270 baht per rai, without any technology to help. With the technology to help us here, the cost has gone down to only 3,200-3,500 baht per rai, enabling us to increase rice production. In the past, we had productivity of 700 kilogrammes per rai. Now with the technology helping, we have been able to increase the yield by at least 900 kilogrammes -1 tonne per rai. This will contribute to increased productivity and profits,”
“If we do not start adapting sustainable farming or helping the world or even reducing the methane emissions that affect global warming, we will be affected first. I would like to persuade others to farm in an eco-friendly way starting with us here. Everything starts with us, and it affects others. The environment is not far away. It is close and we are farmers. This is one of the careers that has been affected the most.” Ms. Sawanee added.
It’s a wrap! Please see the pilot area of the Thai Rice NAMA project in Suphan Buri here and learn more about the 4 low carbon farming techniques here.