UK, Spain, Germany and Thailand to raise Roi-Et rice farmer’s income with climate-smart rice cultivation system

Mars Food, Herba Bangkok S.L (Ebro Foods S.A), the Thai Rice Department and GIZ recently launched an innovative joint project to improve the economic viability of 1,200 Thai rice farmers and develop high-quality and sustainable Hom Mali rice with a climate-smart system to mitigate climate change in Roi-Et province.
 
The “Sustainable Hom Mali Rice” project will be implemented for 2.5 years (2018-2020). The main implementing partners are Mars Food, Herba Bangkok S.L (Ebro Foods S.A), the Thai Rice Department and GIZ. The project aims to support 1,200 Thai rice growers from each of the 12 community rice centres in Roi-Et province in the production of 3,500 metric tons of Hom Mali rice.  
 
Ms. Sineenart Chuichulcherm, Global Commercial Director of Mars Food said: “This initiative is part of Mars Food’s journey to source rice from farmers working towards the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standard. In 2016, Mars Food reached an important milestone and now all basmati rice is sourced from farmers working towards the SRP standard – representing 10 percent of our overall rice volume. From now on, Mars Food will be working with Herba Bangkok S.L (Ebro Foods S.A), the Thai Rice Department and GIZ to further the standards outlined by the SRP on Hom Mali rice. We guarantee that we can achieve a more sustainable Hom Mali rice crop in Thailand that benefits all stakeholders – farmers, rice producers, and the environment.”
 
Dr. Matthias Bickel, GIZ Thailand’s Director of Agriculture and Food Cluster said: “In collaboration with the Thai Rice Department, Mars Food, Herba Bangkok S.L (Ebro Foods S.A) and Hom Mali rice farmers in Thailand, the project will implement numerous interventions such as educating farmers on SRP standards and agronomic technologies, giving access to high-quality seeds, enhancing the skills of farmer groups, improving gender equity, adoption of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-enabled traceability for food safety and quality considerations, and stimulating domestic and international off-takers to procure sustainable rice. The partnership also aims to provide access to finance mechanisms and improve the financial literacy of agriculture cooperatives, with a focus on gender inclusion to unlock opportunities for women.”
 
Mr. Ignacio Yuste Sanchez, Herba Bangkok’s (Ebro Foods) Regional Managing Director said: “For Ebro Foods, this project forms part of our commitment to sustainability in the sector, since Thailand plays a major role in the Group’s rice supply chain. We firmly believe that the best way to achieve sustainability in the sector is through alliances, and we have such strong partners with Mars Food, GIZ, Thai Rice Department, millers and farmers all banding together. Currently a lot of discussions are going on about the sustainability of the rice sectors with the focus on the livelihood of farmers, chemical usage, inclusiveness, food security and the overall condition and wellbeing of farmers. These issues are not exclusive to smallholders but focusing on them can drive industry change.”
 
Mr. Anan Suwannarat, General Director of the Thai Rice Department said: “Hom Mali rice has been declared the world’s best rice and Thailand is one of the world’s leading rice exporters, yet rice farmers are among the lowest earners in the country’s agriculture sector. Many Thai rice farmers face rising production costs and fluctuating prices. Under this project, we will join forces in developing a sustainable quality of rice. The Rice Department is responsible for planning and implementation of the national rice policy and strategy through research and development of rice seed, farming practices, post-harvest and processing, and rice standards. By so doing, we ensure that our implementation can help farmers produce good quality rice and reduce the cost of production while increasing rice yield as well as quality rice that meets global requirements. It is expected that the project will help the farmers to earn additional income in each community.”

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