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Organic rice supply network reaching out to Phuket consumers

PHUKET: As Thailand's social-political crisis persists – the cause and outcome having major implications on regional and global food security – a unique organic rice farming movement that has emerged from the kingdom's primary rice-growing region, is reaching out to Phuket consumers.

By Steven Layne

Wednesday 21 May 2014, 01:29PM

Conscious consumers in Phuket will have a golden opportunity this evening to learn about the Yasothon-based Moral Rice network, a considerable new alternative to the conventional agricultural order and supply chain that has caused so much strife.

"The widespread adoption of conventional agriculture strategies in Northeast Thailand has played a role in farmer debt, health problems and the loss of soil fertility. To resolve these multiple dilemmas, Thai civil society and select government organizations have supported farmers in a shift to organic agriculture,” remarked Alexander H. Kaufman, Ph.D.

Dr Kaufman – a Phuket-based Research Fellow working with the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at Khon Kaen University – will give a talk from 7:30-8:30pm at The SEA, a newly opened eco-oriented co-working space on Phang Nga Rd in Phuket Town.

Alexander explained that Moral Rice is an organic rice farmer's standard and network based around the Dharma Garden Temple in Yasothon province.

It comprises 400 farmers certified with Organic Agriculture Certification of Thailand (ACT), overseen by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) standards.

The temple, a hybrid Buddhist institution and training center, has provided smallholder rice farmers with the skills, inputs and machinery to produce organic rice, he said.

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“From the network there are now 119 full-fledged 'Moral Farmers' whose philosophy is underlined and reinforced by Buddhist precepts... The ultimate goal under the network's 'farm to table' scheme is to establish and maintain direct supply links with conscious consumers throughout Thailand, especially in Phuket.”

Dr Kaufman stressed that Moral Rice is more than an organic rice standard – it is a consumer community comprised of farmer households, monks and urban dwellers.

“Members have benefited from an increase in food security, a decrease in debts and improved health. As such, the replication of this innovation on a global scale merits further study,” he said.

Tonight's talk, which will include a rice tasting session, is free to attend but a B50 donation per person will be appreciated. Drinking water is complimentary, while a selection of teas, organic coffee and cakes will also be available for purchase.

The SEA is located in the heart of the Old Town district, adjacent to the historical Clock Tower on the corner of Phang Nga and Thepkrasattri roads. For more information about the new space, be sure to read the story on the Environment page of The Phuket News' Life pull-out, on stands this Friday. 



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