A new variety of rice is now helping smallholder farmers in North Thailand out of poverty, while also improving their diet. Siam Organic Co., Ltd., which introduced Jasberry rice, a non-GMO, organic rice variety in the region, adopted an inclusive business model to help farmers increase harvest yields and earn more.
Siam Organic was a finalist in the first ASEAN Inclusive Business Awards, which was held in 2017.
The Asian Development Bank, through its Inclusive Business Support Project, is helping governments and the private sector put in place policies, programs, and incentives for inclusive businesses across Asia and the Pacific.
Yasothon District, Thailand - The old kingdom of Siam is one of the world’s top rice exporter, yet many farmers remain poor.
A new variety of rice is now helping smallholder farmers out of poverty, while also improving their diet.
Siam Organic Co., Ltd. introduced Jasberry rice, a non-GMO, organic rice variety in North Thailand.
“I started growing Jasberry rice 5 years ago. It has higher yields and fetches a good price. The yield for Jasberry rice is about 500 kg per rai [0.16 hectars], compared to 450 kg per rai for jasmine rice,” says farmer Kanitha Jandai.
“The price difference is quite significant. Jasberry rice is paid about 7 baht [$0.2] more per kilogram.
Farmers receive a premium on Jasberry rice, and a transparent pricing structure is also in place.”
An inclusive business model was adopted to help farmers increase harvest yields and earn more.
“At Siam Organic, when we say that we are a social enterprise what we mean is that we collaborate with the farmers and the farmers’ cooperatives. It’s like a partnership,” explains Peetachai (Neil) Dejkraisak, Founder and CEO of Siam Organic.
“A lot of the strategies and decision-making at Siam Organic is actually from the farmer. So we would ask them: ‘what would you do in this situation?’
“So we take all this feedback from them, all the time and when we make key decision like pricing, there is total transparency to the farmer.”
Jasberry rice has high nutritional values and antioxidant properties and farmers enjoy its health benefit.
“The experience with Jasberry rice has brought three main benefits to the cooperative members. First, our health has improved because we eat the rice we grow, which has higher nutritional values than other types of rice,” explains Chutima Muangman, Farmer and Manager of Lukthammachart Farmers’ Cooperative.
“Second, we earn more because Siam Organic pays us more than anyone else in the market. Finally, we have learned a lot about how to grow new rice varieties.”
Jasberry rice production has now reached between 400 and 500 tonnes per year.
So far, 1,800 farmer families have joined the scheme, benefiting from the higher income they receive.
“I invested my additional income from Jasberry rice into buying pigs. I now raise pigs and plant rice,” says Ma Lapang, a farmer from the area.
“I also use the manure as organic fertilizer for the rice fields and with other crops. Now I don’t need to buy fertilizer, which saves me a lot of money.”
Siam Organic continues to innovate the business and find new markets for Thailand’s Jasberry rice.