In Suphanburi, an outstanding farmer group called ‘Thungthong Yangyeun Community Enterprise’ has transformed their rice farming from chemical to 100% organic. This was considered tough for many farmers, but this group of farmers completed it within five years. The Community Enterprise consisted on 39 members from Baan Don, Jorakae, U-thong, Muang, Nongyasai, and Samchuk districts.
The leader of the group, Ms. Kanokporn Ditkrachan, mentioned that she previously had quite a number of debts which was inherited from the older generation. Those farmers who had debts then gathered to become ‘Thungthong Yangyeun Community Enterprise’ and involved as a member in the Network of Farmers Council in order to influence government to solve debt problems and the loss of farmers’ lands.
Nowadays, Kanokporn has lesser debts with a tendency of clearing all off soon. She also has a less concern about the loss of her lands in which she was living in an uncertain situation before. In 2007, she attended the training about organic rice farming with Khao Kwan Foundation. In a belief that this kind of farming could help her in a long term, she started to try it out with her 10 Rai of land. It was successful with a satisfactory result.
Kanokporn started to invite members in the group to transform their rice farming to be organic as well as plan a marketing strategy together. Nowadays, organic rice farming is considered to be quite successful. Those 39 farmers in the group who used to do chemical rice farming has now transformed into organic rice farming.
There are four major benefits occurring from developing organic rice farming, according to Kanokporn:
- Farmers could select different varieties of rice especially the local ones: Pathum, Suphan, Short Thai Jasmin, Nang Mon, Green Hom Nil, Sanunthung, Lueng-Orn, and Thai Jasmin 105.
- Nowadays, the group could pick the seeds for further growing year by year, leading to a reduction of production cost.
- The eight varieties of rice would be processed to make new products and sell in a higher price which creates value added.
- The group has more confidence in growing other crops to consume within household which reduces lots of expenses and thereby enhances savings and clears off their debts. With more savings, the risk of land loss can be reduced.
For Thungthong Yangyeun Community Enterprise, their approaches include joint efforts for plantation and harvesting by all members in each paddy rice field. This has enhanced the relationship among community members and led the people bring back traditional farming technology and lifestyle to their communities. In addition, the Community Enterprise is not only focusing on growing plants for personal consumption, but also enhancing environmental conservation and sustainability. Transforming from chemical to organic rice farming is now proved to change the lives of farmers. Not only the consumer has varieties of product to choose, but also farmers have more savings leading to fewer debts and have a better land security.
ActionAid Thailand has been supporting Thungthong Yangyeun Community Enterprise through the Sustainable Agriculture Network. Our support focuses on promoting organic farming that is friendly to the health of the agriculturalists and the consumers as well as environment. In addition, we support capacity building of young farmers on effective farming technology, marketing and communications strategies, and sharing of experiences for replication of best practices and lessons learned among them with an aim to promote and enhance long term sustainability of organic farming in Thailand.