Promoting Sustainable Production of Rice and Ecosystem Resilience in Thailand – PROSPECT

Thailand

The interventions will enable small-scale farmers to increase their income through “better rice” production. This means to improve the ratio of output to input in an ecologically sustainable manner using better quality inputs and to strengthen the farmers’ position within the rice value chain in partnership with private partners and the public sector. Interventions shall cover all areas of the rice value chain from production, processing, to marketing.

Component 1: Training for Sustainable Rice Production

The first component is aimed at training farmers and farmer groups as well as public extension workers, and rice value-chain actors. Target farmers will be smallholder farmers in the provinces of Sisaket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, and Roi-Et, where productivity is relatively low. Farmer-friendly training materials shall be based on proven good agricultural practices (GAP) and the Guidelines for Sustainable Rice Cultivation (SRC). The curriculum will be developed based on an assessment of current farmers’ practices and needs and adjusted to the respective agro-ecological zone.

Training will include the following, adapted according to local practices:

  • Basics of GAP, soil fertility, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), farm economics, and management;
  • Specific issues related to the rice sector such as nutritional aspects, seed, and input quality, effective utilization of inputs, modernization, post-harvest aspects, etc.

As a result of the activities, farmers shall improve their gross margin/ increase the productivity of their operations through increased yields as well as reduced inputs and minimized post-harvest losses. Through the considerate use of pesticides and fertilizer, environment (water and soil), ecosystem resilience, and biodiversity shall be protected. Through the efficient machinery use, output may be increased; harvest time as well as wastage may be reduced. Through the inclusion of farm economics, farmers shall be enabled to identify the right channels to market their produce at favourable prices, thus increasing their profits and improving their livelihoods.

Component 2: Awareness Raising for Sustainable Rice Production Using Information Technology

The second component uses a more media-based approach with extended outreach at farm level rather than personal training for a certain number of farmers. Therewith, the component emphasizes broad grower coverage and outreach with the intention to induce changes in farmer behaviour by using deliverable integrated technology. The initial target group for competitions are farmers and farmer groups in the Central areas.

A broadcast which aims to sustainably change farmers’ behaviours during the four years of project implementation educates farmers in the safe, responsible, economical, and ecological way of using production inputs in accordance with the Guidelines for Sustainable Rice Cultivation (SRC). Activities will focus on improving rice crop technologies and cultural practices as well as to improve production quality in order to increase the farmers’ roles within the rice value chain. In order to attain maximum commitment, selected farmer groups enter a reality contest on sustainable rice crop technology which is to improve their production, processing, and marketing activities. Prizes with a direct link to agriculture (e. g. agricultural machinery that can be shared among the winner group members) will be given to the best performing farmer group.

Outcomes of the activities will be closely monitored by teams of independent experts. The activities/ interventions offered will include preservation of local wisdom in rice farming and creation of young farmer networks. As a result of the activities, farmers shall increase the productivity of their operations through increased yields as well as reduced inputs and post-harvest losses. Through the considerate use of pesticides and fertilizer, environment (water and soil), ecosystem resilience, and biodiversity shall be protected.

Component 3: Postharvest Efficiency

Interventions in the rice postharvest system will focus on both preventing food losses and improving the efficiency of technologies that are used to add value to rice and its by-products. The aim is to generate more employment as well as income, strengthen the rural economy and improve food and nutrition security.

Generally, the project is aimed at strengthening the national rice postharvest agroindustry technically, commercially, economically, politically, socially, and environmentally. This may comprise the improvement of packaging and storage for rice and its by-products and the sustainable utilization of secondary and by-products in the milling process (bran, husk, and straw) which will be investigated during project implementation as it may generate extra income and improve the well-being and food and nutrition security of communities.

Component 4: Strengthening Market Linkages and Promote Young Agripreneurs

Improvement of market linkages is essential to increasing the competitiveness of local rice supply through better access to production factors, reduced transaction costs, and better access to market information. Aspects of improved market linkages are already integrated in components one and two (strengthening farmers’ knowledge for entering markets with a strengthened position); however, market access for farmers shall be further supported. In order to do so, the project will identify potential local rice mills, retailers, wholesalers, and exporters and facilitate long-term business arrangements among them and between the farmers. Better market access shall also be supported through linking farmers and financial institutions (e. g. BAAC). It is also foreseen to assess the business opportunities with the Ministry of Commerce in the field of Business Development and export promotion.

In addition, due to serious labour shortages within the agricultural sector, a special focus will be put on the promotion of young farmers and young agri-preneurs in order to combat labour shortages in rural areas and to sustain the rice sector for the future. This shall be achieved through the “future farmer” approach, advertised at local communities and at least 50 schools within target regions.