Doojduan Sasanavin, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives speaks at a press conference on May 24 in Bangkok. (Photo credit: GIZ Thailand)
The Thai government with support from Germany will introduce climate-friendly practices to at least 100,000 farmers in Central Thailand to cut emissions of greenhouse gases in the agriculture sector.
The switch to low-carbon cultivation is expected to decrease emissions by more than 26 per cent in five years under the coordination of the Thai Rice Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions or Thai Rice NAMA project.
“We believe that our efforts will result in a better image of the country’s agricultural goods as a whole,” Doojduan Sasanavin, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, told a press conference in Bangkok on 24 May 2019 at the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
“The [Thai Rice NAMA] project will strengthen rice production in Thailand that takes the environment into account,” she added.
Thai Rice NAMA project, approved in July last year, will continue to 2023 with 530 million baht (or 14.9 million euros) of the financial support coming from the NAMA Facility, a multi-donor fund that supports developing countries to implement green projects.
In Thailand, the Rice Department and GIZ, which is supporting sustainable development worldwide, are taking the lead in decreasing the climate crisis in the agricultural sector.
The low greenhouse gas emission farming to be introduced to farmers in six central provinces of Thailand, namely Chainat, Angthong, Pathum Thani, Sing Buri, Ayutthaya and Suphanburi, will be in accordance with the world’s first sustainability standard for rice initiated by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP). Under the project, Ms. Doojduan said farmers will gradually pick up the low-carbon farming techniques such as laser land leveling, alternate wetting and drying, site-specific nutrient management and straw and stubble management.
While most of the technologies are relatively low-cost and simple, the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives has decided to extend no-interest loans to local farmers who want to make the soil surface in the paddy field flat by using the laser-guided tractor, which currently costs around 450,000 baht (12,600 euros).
When the surface of the farm land is flat, farmers can save up to 50 percent of water.
According to Matthias Bickel, GIZ Thailand’s director for the agriculture and food cluster and chairperson of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) board of directors, Thailand is the first country in the world to have adopted the SRP standard.
Mr. Bickel also emphasised the role of rice exporters and close cooperation between the public and private sectors in supporting sustainable rice in international markets.
About 80 participants attended the press conference, among them Margaret Tongue, charge d’affaires of the British embassy and Claudia Ebach, Counsellor for Food and Agriculture of the German embassy, representatives from the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, the Rice Department, the Royal Irrigation Department, the Cooperative Promotion Department, the Office of Agricultural Economics and the Department of Agricultural Extension.
Margaret Tongue, left, charge d’affaires of the British embassy, Claudia Ebach, right, Counsellor for Food and Agriculture of the German embassy and Tim Mahler, GIZ country director for Thailand and Malaysia. (Photo credit: GIZ Thailand)
Matthias Bickel, GIZ Thailand’s director for the agriculture and food cluster explains the benefits of the sustainable rice cultivation to the media during a Q&A session. (Photo credit: GIZ Thailand)