Thailand is a major fruit exporting country. Yet thousands of the country’s small fruit farmers used to struggle with poor yields. In addition, many lacked knowledge about food safety and meeting global standards for export.
Since 2006, the Thai Crop Protection Association (TCPA) has been actively reaching out to smallholders in Chantaburi, a key fruit production province in the east. The objective: to help fruit farmers grow bigger and better quality crops, thereby improving their income. Growers of mangosteen, rambutan and durian used to apply pesticides excessively – and ineffectively. In addition, they had little knowledge about efficient pesticide use, personal safety and environmental protection. The result: low yields, high costs and risks of pesticide exposure.
In partnership with the Department of Agriculture, TCPA trained fruit farmers on Good Agricultural Practices, including environmentally friendly methods to deal with pest infestations and the responsible use of pesticides. To help more farmers export their fruit, the partners also provided training on food safety, including ways to minimize pesticide residue on crops.
Besides fruit farmers, TCPA also worked with the Royal Project Foundation in the country’s rural north to promote more effective crop protection practices in over 275 villages. In addition, TCPA’s Train the Trainer initiative has motivated farmer leaders to educate others, creating a cascade effect and expanding outreach in the country.
Wuttichai Prakosub, 24, grows mangosteen and durian on a six-hectare family farm in Chantaburi, Thailand. He plans to produce mangosteen to meet global standards for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and export the fruit to countries in the European Union (EU).
Currently, I am selling mangosteen just to local cooperatives. What I’d like to do is make more money by working with major exporters and sell my fruit at higher prices to markets in the EU. Training by the TCPA on the responsible use of pesticides has helped me grow higher quality fruit. I have cut pesticide costs by 30 percent and am contributing to food safety. For instance, I refrain from spraying crop protection products 14 days before harvest. The training has also helped me to understand global GAP better. I’m confident we will eventually produce mangosteen that are fit for export.
Visit www.croplifeasia.org to learn more about work towards sustainable agriculture across the Asia Pacific region.