DEVELOPING PARTICIPATORY GUARANTEE SYSTEMS FOR SAFETY AND QUALITY FOOD PRODUCTION IN THE SOUTHERN BORDER PROVINCES
The economic structure of southern border provinces of Thailand has remained largely unchanged for the last 20 years. Agriculture sector accounted for more than one-third of the southernmost Gross Provincial Product, and more than 40 percent of workforce are in this sector. UNDP’s recent research with food consumers and producers in Yala indicated that there has been an increase in health concerns among consumers particularly safety and quality of food they buy. Although the promotion of food traceability can help creating awareness and demands of food security, safety, and sustainability among consumers and producers, there are not many trusted platforms widely used in the southern border provinces. More importantly, UNDP found that on the supply side agricultural and food standards are difficult to obtain among local farmers and fishers due to high regulatory cost and lack of trust from consumers.
In this regard, Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) offers an alternative community-based approach to promote sustainable production and empower both consumers and producers in the localities to actively take parts in the local healthy food systems. According to IFOAM – Organics International, the PGS is “a low-cost, locally-based system of quality assurance with a strong emphasis on social control and knowledge building”. This system is based on the active participation of farmers, consumers, rural advisors, local authorities: they come together in order to make decisions, visit farms, support each other and check that farmers are producing according to an Organic Standard.
Since early 2021, UNDP in Thailand has been developing a portfolio on social innovation for strengthening local governance, community resilience and social cohesion in southern Thailand’s local food systems for responsive covid-19 service delivery under the so-called “Social Innovation Platform (SIP)”. Seeking for shared value across various stakeholders are key to the platform approach. With abovementioned situation about food certification, UNDP in collaboration with Baramizi Lab is organizing a knowledge sharing workshop on “Developing Participatory Guarantee Systems for Safety and Quality Food Production in the Southern Border Provinces”.
Current situations about PGS in each area:
Farmer school : there are rice fields in every villages, however, farmers have been stop, we have restored it in 2006 transplant rice seedlings to saw rice seeding therefore farmers used weed killers. Since 2018 We focus on sustainable so we have invited new generation to work in the rice fields, Farmer school has been opened in and we managed to change to transplant rice seedlings again.
Vegetable group : Produce safe vegetable, focus on microorganism , produce own bio-fermented water. Collaborations with all farmers to protect the use of chemical.
Community Enterprise “Kaow Budee”: produce non chemical rice to get certificated , created value by using own bio-fermented water, reduce the use of chemical and use bio-fertilizer and bio-fermented water.
Stingless bees : can’t use in the farms that use chemicals especially in Durain farm because this animal allergic to chemical.
Growing Vegetables : focus on produce the safety vegetables in the their home and in village
integrated agriculture : some free time after working in rubber farm, growing pepper ,lime , Salak. Have the animal farm and produce use bio-fertilizer and bio-fermented water.
SYG Yala : support farmers to produce rice, fruits and local herbs food processing, establish relationship and connect with all stakeholders such as marketing, packaging, support local herb to global market
Alternative farmers : drive PGS in the area as well as drive the farmers identity . Develop the standard together with develop entrepreneur, Arrange green entrepreneur training. Implement the standard of Organic Agriculture Certification Thailand and standard of PGS Confederation, establish PGS Thailand. Develop application for rubber farmers under the name “ Suan Yang Yung Yuen or Sustainable Rubber farms” Arrange the 3rd assembly where all concern topic in regards to standard will be discussed
Big Mangosteen farm : a group of 50 farmers who do the non-chemical mangosteen farms work together to apply for PGS standard
Local Fishermen Pattani : is the food chain, experienced the degenerated of the resources because misused of the tools. The association seek for new solutions, focus on the fresh seafood, arrange community enterprise to control the quality for food both fresh foods and processing food (certified from Organic Agriculture Certification Thailand). Encourage fishermen to take responsibility to look after environment, don’t have the leaking of chemical, have the plan of resources and also control the quality of ice.
Songkhla Village Foundation: to fixing the issue about supporting the smaller producers we need to do PGS for the small enterprise and they can sell the over produce, work with the hospital about the market opportunity in the hospital. We should have 2 tiers of PGS : A) small enterprise who want to sell their over produced after they use in house. B) Grouping all productions to the market, we have to planning the producer. For the area about the health of the villagers, area 12 we work on vegetable farm in the city, expanding the safety food and healthy food to the kitchens in hotels and hospital via application “green smile” develop database for all farmers and have all process connect from the beginning to the end.
Benjapreuk Garden Songkhla : is the connections of city vegetable farmers, teach about how to prepare the soil, how to make fertilizer, fixing the issue about don’t have enough soil to plant. Work together as a group under the name of “ Kasetsook Kuan Lang” or Happy farmers , before we used to sell with the trucks but now develop to sell via on-line and we also demonstrate how to plant online.
Well-being farmers Network , Songkhla : grouping all products but facing the problem about market such as same product, no consistency, not enough product sometime. Currently have 70 members. Solving problems by planning about production using Green Smile application.
Cho Coffee & Cocoa Farm : produce coffee and Cocoa to use in the house and sell what have been over produced for own use so it’s easy to control the quality , produce and processing by themselves, already certified standard. Also open the farm as learning center, buy the product from farmers to process. Interested in PGS to produce coffee and cocao .
Yala Rajaphat University : focus on the study about sustainable agriculture, integrated agriculture. Students are valued these courses especially about using chemical for pest control .PGS is more flexible than government system and it will definitely support the small farmers as they can do it themselves.
Yala Agriculture Provincial office : Yala has Safety farmers who focus on food safety. In 2021 the province just start to have first group of PGS farmers (7 persons)
Food Safety Producer Community Enterprise : Started the business over a year ago, members are the people who left the city and return to villages. We promote people to change the mindset about food production and focus on food safety. Most of farmers focus on monoculture , need to change the way of planting. We believed in order to have the food sustainable, farmers need to adapt to new ideas. Applications that will help farmers to work better is developing. Challenges that we found are:
- Farmers are not ready to record their work
- Complications at work
- High cost to produce organic vegetable compare with non-organic
- No fund proving to support the project
Our aim is the sustainable health and well-being.
Node Flagship Yala : Our strategy is reduce accident and well-being of people in the province. In regards to food safety we focus on changing the planting area together with doing the marketing. We work together with Provincial Agriculture and District Agriculture support funding to the village, creating the model, support the villages and community enterprises. Moreover, we ensure that we handover to the concern department to follow up.
Songkhla Sustainable Agriculture Confederation (SDGsPGS Songkhla) : SDGs set the standard of organic agriculture that all elements (people, area, production) need to work together in the same direction after the suitable planting areas have been identified , we focus on the plant inspectors. We support food production that suit the locations, the process are complex and all elements are connected such as soil, water, environment, forest, renewable energy, farmers. Mindset of the people is the key to drive this mission, even the industries may face challenges but agriculture can survive if we work well together.
Limitations of promoting PGS
- Knowledge and understanding
- Collaborations of groups of people to start the development process
- Individual interest , need to work together on the goal , focus on the value of product
- For Stingless bees even the farm that have Stingless bees don’t use any chemical but other farms nearby may use it, difficult to control the product
- change the mindset of old generations may take long time and high cost
- Knowledge of the fishermen who are the starters of the process
- Farmers don’t accept the ideas of Organic Farming because they focus on the quantity and quick turn around
- farmers who focus on monoculture such as Rubber, Palm Oil, Coffee need to understand about sustainable farming
- Farmers who want to grow Coffee or Coco in the rubber farms still don’t have the knowledge
- Farmers can’t spate each types of the farming
- Nearby farms don’t do the Organic farm need to find the way to protect own area
- Organic farming for commercial need some funds and takes time to implement
- Every area has own identity and different from other area
- Challenging to control the bumper lines
- Network partners, working committees, working procedure to drive the budget
- Landscape with the flooding / mass of water challenge to arrange the organic agriculture but can implement safety agriculture
- Farmers who plants in the areas that have flooding are unable to apply for PGS because need to work on standardize the bumper line, ditch, closing the area and ecological agriculture
- Difficult to build the bumper line
- Attitude of the farmers, most of them still think doing the ordinary farming still in demand
- Budget to work on this project and cost
- Villages need to request the support from government units, need to work strategically to have the win-win situations
- Need fertilizer to replace the chemical fertilizer and ensure that mangosteen trees still get enough nutrients have similar volume of product
- organic aquaculture has the additional cost to get the certified such as containers and these cost will be added in the product (make the product more expensive)
- PGS should not combine but should have PGS for each area to support the needs
- PGS suit for the smaller farmers but still not suit for Varity products
- The way how to manage are still on the testing and work together
- Consistency in certification
Opportunities to support for next phase:
- Knowledge about PGS
- Create the knowledge about how to develop PGS, show the process, example on how to (build the bumper line, production factor, plant management)
- Create PGS that cover all areas (Livestock, Agriculture, fishing)
- PGS center should be covered all areas
- Promote the knowledge about PGS to the local farmers
- Network partners
- Connect the network partners, create the central information system (farmers, productions, way to produce, concern stakeholders) and implement as the plan for each province
- Invite concerns to work together, seeking for pilot projects, have the discussion to analyze the project, comments and improve
- Working mechanism
- Central Committees from all concern departments
- Work with the existing department such as farmer council to strengthen the relation and have the sustainability work flow.
- Have the local office to support the budget i.e. district funding
- Co-ordinate with Thai Health Promotion Office and Office of the Private Education Commission in the province to understand the policy for each province
- Node flagship Yala
- Songkhla Sustainable Agriculture Federation (SDGsPGS Songkhla)
- Ban Pulita Agriculture Learning Center , Songkhla
- One Pat Farm
- Ban La Ha Farmers School, Wang district, Narathiwat
- Product Efficiency Learning Centerm Tarnto District
- Rong Chan Community Enterprise KM 19 Betong district, Yala
- President of Yala Young Smart Farmers (YSF) / Nanthawut Farm
- Nuris Farm Lammai
- Yala Young Smart Farmers
- Local Rice Safety Community Enterprise
Participants via Zoom Meeting:
- Yala Provincial Agriculture
- Songkhla Safety Vegetable networking
- Integrated Agriculture
- Vegetable plants in city, Had Yai, Songkhla
- Local Fishermen association Pattani
- President of the mangosteen farmers in Batong, Yala
- CHO Coffee & Cocoa Farm
- President of Young Smart Farmers Narathiwat
- Mushroom Community Enterprise
- Vice President of Young Smart Farmers Narathiwat
- Sustainable Agriculture Networking
- President of Young Smart Farmers Narathiwat/ Bor Thong Community Enterprise
- Organic Vegetable Producers by the group of farmers
- Young smart farmer Southern
- Teacher from Agriculture Major Yala Rajaphat University
- Representative from UNDP Thailand 3 persons
- Southern volunteer association 6 persons