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Ministry of Commerce Opens Organic Symposium 2017 at Organic & Natural Expo 2017 and Highlights Strategy to Establish Thailand as ASEAN’s Organic Leader

28 July 2017 – The Ministry of Commerce opens the Organic Symposium 2017 during the Organic & Natural Expo 2017 and highlights strategy to establish Thailand as the ASEAN’s organic leader.
Mrs. Pimpapan Chansilp, an advisor to the commerce minister, presides over the opening of the Organic Symposium 2017, which is a part of the Organic & Natural Expo 2017 or the ASEAN’s biggest such fair. At the academic seminar, she also delivers a special lecture on “Thailand’s Strategy for Organic Products and its Direction”. According to her, the Ministry of Commerce has now implemented the 2nd National Organic Agriculture Development Strategy. Scheduled for implementation between 2017 and 2021, this strategy has the vision to “install Thailand as the internationally-recognized and sustainable hub of organic manufacturing, consumption, trading and services in the ASEAN region”. Key targets of the strategy are to raise Thailand’s organic farm area to 600,000 rai and the number of organic farmers to at least 30,000 by 2021. Within the same timeframe, the strategy hopes to adjust the ratio of domestic consumption to export for organic products to 40:60. Importantly, this strategy aims at upgrading local organic farmers groups in support of its goal to expand Thailand’s organic agricultural sector by more than 100% within the next five years.

“The government has recognized the importance of organic farming as a manufacturing process that is friendly to environment as well as the overall ecological system. It, moreover, is safe to manufacturers and consumers alike. The government has thus embraced the principles of organic agriculture. Set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM), the principles have focused on health, ecology, fairness for manufacturers, traders and consumers, and care. On top of this, the government has followed HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy,” Mrs. Pimapan says.

The current National Organic Agricultural Development Master Plan has prescribed four strategies: (1) Strategy to promote R&D and distribute organic farming knowledge/ innovations (2) Strategy to develop organic products/services (3) Strategy to develop markets and certification systems for organic products/services and (4) Strategy to drive organic agriculture.

“All these four strategies are in line with Thailand 4.0 policy, which is transforming the country into an innovation-driven economy. The transformation is mainly about turning commodities into innovative products. Instead of driving Thai economy with industrial growth, Thailand 4.0 will rely on technology, creativity and innovations. Turning away from the manufacturing-led approach, Thailand will now focus more on the service sector. The Thai government has already identified five target industries for the country’s new development. All these industries can be developed via R&D, science, creativity, and innovations. Of them, two are the Food, Agriculture & Bio-Tech Industry and Health, Wellness & Bio-Med Industry. Both these industries are directly related to Thailand’s organic potential and organic farming. With further development, they will be able to compete in the global market in line with the “Thailand 4.0” policy”
The Ministry of Commerce, via the Department of Internal Trade, seeks to integrate efforts and drive the National Organic Agriculture Master Plan with aim to develop Thai organic products further and integrate them more to the global market. The ultimate goal is to establish “Thailand as the ASEAN’s organic leader in terms of manufacturing, trading and consumption”. It is thus important that the master plan boosts consumers’ awareness of organic products and their benefits. With the growing public awareness, farmers will automatically become more interested in organic agriculture. Because organic products boast a higher value, farmers’ income will grow. Such growth will in turn sustain local communities and expand the Thai economy in a prosperous and sustainable way. In support of such goals, the Ministry of Commerce via the Department of Internal Trade has drawn up the Organic Market Development Master Plan 2017 – 2021. It has four key strategies namely: (1)Strategy to raise awareness of everyone in the chain supply; (2)Strategy to raise the standards of organic farming and their certification; (3) Strategy to develop and expand the market for organic products/services; and 4) Strategy to add value to organic products/services.

Mrs. Pimpapan says, “These four strategies respond well to the growing popularity of organic products in the world, Thailand’s organic potential, and Thailand 4.0 policy. Moreover, these strategies reflect the Ministry of Commerce’s commitment and readiness to drive Thailand’s organic industry forward.
They match supply with demand from domestic market, regional market and also global market. These strategies have also recognized the importance of making Thai farmers and entrepreneurs aware of global demand. Knowing what the market wants, they should then able to deliver the right products. Moreover, these strategies encourage Thai farmers and entrepreneurs to leverage technology and innovations for the development of organic products and services”.

In 2017, the Ministry of Commerce via the Department of Internal Trade has introduced various projects to promote organic markets. Designed to achieve tangible results, these projects are:
  1. Thai market: the Project to develop and add value to organic products; the Project for further development of select organic products; the Organic Thailand Innovation Award Project; the Organic & Natural Expo 2017; the Project to organize organic fairs in provinces; the Project to promote the good image of organic products; the Opportunities on Organic farms for CLMVT Project; the Organic Farm Database Project; and the Organic Village & Organic Farm Outlet Project.  
  2. Overseas market: the Project to bring Thai organic entrepreneurs to BIOFACH; the Project to stage the biggest international organic expo, etc.

Mrs. Pimpapan mentions a case study in Chaiyaphum, saying, “From our discussions with private firms and farmer groups that manufacture and distribute organic products in Chaiyaphum’s Nong Bua Daeng and Kaset Somboon districts, we have found that local communities are strong and boast high potential. They have integrated organic agriculture into their ways of life throughout the whole process from production to distribution with communities in charge of bringing products to end-consumers. Locals have leveraged solar energy and networks in facilitating the selling of organic products across farmer groups such as the Large Paddy Field Group, the Natural-Dye Woven Fabric Group, the Mulberry Group, the Cattle Group; the Gros Michel Banana Group, and Watermelon Group. All these organic-farmer groups are exemplary. The Ministry of Commerce therefore will develop them as Thailand’s First Organic Valley. We expect this initiative to inspire farmers in other regions to follow suit”.

At present, the Ministry of Commerce has already set up Four Organic Villages namely (1) Rim Si Muang Village, Phetchabun province; (2) Tap Thai Village, Surin province; (3) Sok Khum Poon Village, Yasothon province; and (4) Huai Phun Village, Nakhon Pathom province. Moreover, the Ministry of Commerce has planned to establish four more organic villages before the end of 2017. These four new organic villages will in Nakhon Panom, Chaiyaphum, Lop Buri and Chiang Mai provinces.

“Thailand’s organic agriculture has high potential because of its diversity. As the number of organic farmers and entrepreneurs has also increased, the Ministry of Commerce has planned to expand the country’s organic sector further. With aim to install Thailand as the ASEAN’s organic leader, we have now networked with organic farmers in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV). Farmers from neighboring nations are invited to come together for the exchange of experiences, mutual learning, practice in demonstration farms, marketing training and logistics support. Moreover, representatives from organic farmer associations from across the ASEAN will discuss on the establishment of the ASEAN Organic Federation during the Organic & Natural Expo. The move will pave way for concrete collaboration, integration, and exchange of opinions among all relevant parties in the ASEAN’s organic industry enabling it to growth further,” Mrs. Pimpapan concludes.