Ban Chan Community Enterprise under Alternative Agriculture Network (AAN) in Northeast, Thailand
Kassirin Phiboon, November 2019
Revitalising rural economy, through & to Social Solidarity Economy. International Solidarity Economy Conference on Transformative Economy, Yogyakarta, Indonesia on Nov 12 & 13, 2019. Organised by ASEC – Asian Solidarity Economy Council
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Sustainable Agriculture Foundation
Ban Chan Community Enterprise that focuses on growing crops under self-sufficient economy concept (the group also is a part of Alternative Agriculture Network in Northeastern Thailand). The group was created in 2001 with around 10 group members and then there are 37 group members in the present. Concerning on health condition and decreasing farm production costs are the main reasons to adopt organic farm practices. There are 3 main reasons to form as a community enterprise that consist of 1) being a formal group, 2) having the rights to get supports from the committee of community enterprise promotion (as a detail under Community Enterprise Promotion Act), and 3) collective action.
2. Current group activities
◦ Organic farming: The group decided to practice in organic farming since forming a group (this farm practices were promoted by Alternative Agriculture Network in Northeastern Thailand) as they concerned health and environment issues, including farm production costs. They produce mainly rice, and some could produce seasonal vegetables, fruit trees, and livestock.
◦ Seed production: Although, they have some local wisdom on seed production but they did not much keep their seed due to low germination. However, since the group received training on seed production from the University in 2014 with academic knowledge, they applied this knowledge directly as they could increase more confident to produce quality seeds for decreasing farm production costs, keeping seeds from generation to generation, and earning alternative income from selling. Currently, they could produce 5 rice varieties [3 glutinous (Khao Naew Deang, Khao Kham Luem Phua, and Khao Naew Khao Wong varieties) and 2 non-glutinous (Khao Riceberry and Khao Hom Mali 105 varieties)], and more than 10 varieties of vegetables such as chili, lettuce, long bean, Chinese cabbage, sweet basil, Thai eggplant, etc. The group aims to produce seeds for their cultivation, share among group members and network (namely Isaan seed production enterprise), and sell some varieties in different marketing channels (more detail in marketing section)
◦ Certification: The group is certified their farms with 2 standards which are Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) and USDA. Currently, they are on-going process for certifying EU certification as they would like to increase the confident from buyers, and expect to have more chance accessing wildly marketing channels.
◦ Marketing: The group supports their members by buying both rice and vegetable seeds with guarantee price and then sell these seeds via several marketing channels as follow:
◦ Selling rice seeds to Large Scale Scheme (the government project that promotes economies of scale for rice production)
◦ Selling lettuce seeds to Isaan seed production enterprise (this enterprise is also a part of Alternative Agriculture Network in Northeast Thailand)
◦ Selling other vegetable varieties via online (i.e., Facebook, Line) and agriculture fair/seminar/forum
3. The way forward
◦ Registration seeds under seed law
◦ Support young farmers: sustainable agriculture system, marketing opportunities, community development, and seed production.
◦ Build seed network: improve seed production, appropriate technologies, advocating related agriculture policies (i.e., alternative agriculture act, the Thai Plant Varieties Protection (PVP) Act.