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Project launched to introduce low-carbon rice farming

May 24. 2019
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By The Nation

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The Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the German government's international co-operation agency on Friday announced the launch of a joint public-private project aimed at transforming the central plains of Thailand to low-carbon rice farming.

The goal is to boost rice-producing capacity and add value to Thai rice and penetrate new markets.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach said his office had joined with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which is the German federal enterprise supporting sustainable development worldwide, to carry out the project, called Thai Rice NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions). 

The project received financial support worth 14.9 million euros (about Bt530 million) from the governments of Germany, the UK, Denmark as well as the European Union through the multi-donor Nationally NAMA facility project (2018-2023).

Under this project, some 100,000 local rice farming households covering 2.8 million rai of rice fields in six provinces of Chainat, Angthong, Pathum Thani, Sing Buri, Ayutthaya, and Suphan Buri would shift to a sustainable method of rice-growing. This is intended to increase their productivity while also cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to the rising global temperature, the minister said. 

The project's main objectives were; to create benefits to farmers in terms of the promotion of zero emission rice-growing and the promotion of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for rice; to develop and expand business that provide technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice-growing; and to motivate the rice-producing sector to apply the method that can cut greenhouse gas emissions, Grisada said.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Doojduan Sasanavin, said Thailand has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20-25 per cent within the year 2030 in the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

This will be done by applying the King Rama IX's 'sufficiency economy' principle, reduce the use of fossil fuels and applying alternative energy that is environmentally friendly instead. 

The project - having a revolving fund and providing training to farmers - would have farmers shifting from their current method of rice growing to apply the low greenhouse gas-emitting way, use appropriate rice seed strain and related technologies (such as the land-levelling, the alternated wet and dry water management for rice fields, the fertiliser application based on soil testing and analysing, and the rice straw and stubble management to avoid applying a haze-creating method of burning). 

The agricultural technology service providing companies also got special "green loans" from Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, she said.

Doojduan said this project would benefits 454,200 rice farmers and agriculture technology service providers, while the 2.58 million rais of target rice field in the rainy season and off-season rice growing were expected to yield a total of 4 million tonnes per year.

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