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Farmers urged to go organic

Thailand could double its growth of food exports by tapping the growing global market for organic foods, officials and academics said yesterday.

Published on July 7, 2007

Panellists at the "Eco-Efficiency Forum on Organic Industry in Thailand: Tradition and Innovation" said Thai farmers and enterprises should undertake organic farming to ensure continued export growth and increase domestic sales.

According to a report by the Thai-German Programme for Enterprise Competitiveness (PEC), the value of Thai organic products reached US$24.3 million (Bt826 million) last year -$10.96 million from exports and $13.35 million from domestic market sales.

Organic products with high demand in world markets include rice, vegetables, fruits and processed foods.

Academics believe the demand will increase significantly each year because of heightened health consciousness and environmental concerns among consumers.

PEC director Burghard Rauschelbach said that organic farming reflected sustainable economic development because it was not only good business but also benefited people and the environment.

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Rungruang Isarangkura said organic farming was a way for Thai farmers to increase income because consumers were willing to pay more for quality and safe products.

He said organic farmers would get a boost from the plan to upgrade the country's good agricultural practices (GAP) standard to that of the European Union, which is widely accepted in international markets. The project, with a budget of Bt100 million, should be completed next year.

The ministry is also creating a database on organic farming to educate farmers and enterprises, which should be completed by late this year, he said.

Thailand currently has 22,550 hectares of certified organic farmland and more than 7,500 farms. The main organic crops are rice, field crops, fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs.

Wanlop Pichpongsa, president of the Thai Organic Trade Association, called for more government support for organic farming.

He suggested campaigns to promote organic products directly to consumers and providing soft loan for farmers to change from their traditional farming methods to organic farming.

Petchanet  Pratruangkrai

The Nation


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