Sustainable rice project lifts incomes of smallholder farmers in Thailand
19,000 farmers see incomes increase by over 20% through successful public-private partnerships between Olam Agri, and German and Thai government bodies. GHG emissions were reduced by 21% through the project
The Market Oriented Smallholder Value Chain (MSVC) programme, one of the largest sustainable rice projects in Thailand, is close to completion and has successfully helped 19,000 Thai smallholder farmers increase their net income by more than 20% and reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from farming by 21%.
It received the highest sustainability recognition, the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) Gold Level, by the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform earlier this year.
The programme, which started in 2016 with 77 farmers, aimed primarily at improving the lives of resource-poor rice farmers in the Northeastern provinces of Ubon Ratchathani and Surin in Thailand and increasing the production of sustainable and high-quality rice from these regions.
The programme exceeded expectations by enrolling 20% (3,000 farmers) more farmers than originally planned and had the additional benefit of improving the inclusion of women farmers who make up 60% of participating farmers.
In addition to a 21% reduction in GHG emissions, the programme has also improved water quality by 14%.
"Smallholder farmers are an important pillar of Thailand's national economic development and integral to food security in the country, but many occupy a weak position in the supply chain. In line with our purpose to transform agriculture for a more sustainable future, we are actively working with GIZ and the Thai Rice Department on the ground to help improve the lives of these smallholder rice farmers and make the rice supply chain more resilient and environmentally sustainable," said Paul Nicholson, Vice President for Rice Research and Sustainability, Olam Agri.
"We believe in the importance of connecting the market with farmers and fully support market-driven production through capacity building among farmers and systemising sustainable rice cultivation practices. The implementation of MSVC project over the past years enables smallholder farmers in Thailand to enhance market competitiveness and access sustainable market-oriented smallholder value chains," said Atthawit Watcharapongchai, MSVC Thailand Project Director, GIZ.
Thanks to MSVC, food producers and retailers in Europe, the U.S. and around the world will have access to more than 50,000 metric tonnes (MT) of rice that has been cultivated sustainably, to the highest food international safety standards and that can be traced back to the thriving farmer communities in Thailand.
MSVC is a collaboration between Olam Agri, German development cooperation Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and Thai government authority Thailand Rice Department.
The partners cooperate within the framework of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development's (BMZ) programme develoPPP, a funding instrument for sustainable company initiatives.
"The sustainable development and well-being of the Thai farmers are the ultimate goals of the Thai Rice Department. In partnership with GIZ, Olam Agri, and other private sector players, the MSVC project was jointly implemented to introduce the Sustainable Rice Platform's (SRP) Standards and sustainable practices to rice farmers in Thailand. Through this initiative, the Thai Rice Department hopes to encourage the adoption of sustainable rice farming and improve farmer livelihoods in Thailand. I would like to thank the project players as well as rice farmers for their kind cooperation and contributions to Thai rice farming." Said Apichart Pongsrihadulchai, the former Director-General of the Rice Department and the advisor to the Director-General of the Rice Department.