thumbs up: Prayut said the startup could serve as a model to upgrade farming.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has praised Siam Organic Co, a startup helping rice farmers to gain high yields from their organic crops, which won the first prize at an international business model contest in the United States.
The firm was among 30 competing in the event, Chivas Venture, in Los Angeles last week.
Citing the prime minister, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the startup could serve as a model for others to develop their own businesses and inspire farmers who have to adjust their attitudes and move towards better farming practices.
“The prime minister said the government is putting a lot of effort into fostering startups which draw on knowledge, technology and innovation to create products and services to move the Thai economy forward,” he said. “At the same time, there is a need to transform the existing farming to a modern one.”
The prime minister noted more than 17 million rice farmers still shoulder high production costs but receive a low income, the spokesman said, adding the key problems lie in low quality rice seeds, low output and unstable markets.
Siam Organic Co, however, works with farmers to grow organic rice named Jasberry, a variety jointly developed by the National Research Council of Thailand and Kasetsart University, he said, noting this help address problems of the inequality of rice variety.
The company also buys rice from farmers at prices double those of jasmine rice and guarantees to purchase all the grain.
Farmers are also supported to use high-quality fertilisers and a suitable amount of water as well as undergo consistent training.
The output, Lt Gen Sansern said, is aimed at serving upper-class and export markets with modern packaging, resulting in a higher income for farmers.
The company is led by Peetachai Dejkraisak and has 600 farmers in its network.
According to the spokesman, Siam Organic has increased rice yields by 40% over the last three years.
Last year the network’s farmers’ incomes rose by 8 million baht.