Young Organic Farmer 2020: Organic Seeds Production Training
11 August 2020, Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Anocha Parameesak is a young organic farmer that proves that young people can be a change agent.
- Successful organic enterprise requires holistic approach to the organic food chain.
- Networking is the key towards successful organic movement.
- Building trust in farmer group requires consistent follow-up with them so they feel supportive along the way.
Organic agriculture is not only about farming, but also about driving the whole organic food chain to achieve sustainability.
Anocha Parameesak, a successful young organic farmer in Lamphoon, the northern province of Thailand, reminded the Young Organic Farmers 2020 that organic farming is not so simple.
He manages the family successful organic enterprise, Sukjai Organic Farm, and over the years his work grew into an organized community farmer group, as well as national and regional network of young farmer movement.
Where is Sukjai Organic Farm and what are you doing there?
Sukjai Organic Farm is located on the 15 Rai (approx.6 Acre) of land that has been passed down from my grandparents. After my graduation from Maejo University, I transformed the land into an organic farm and together with my parents, we continue caring for the farm based on the principle of agroecology, food security, organic food for all, and community relationship.
The products sold from the farm are both raw and value-added products such as rice, eggs, vegetable, and bamboo pickles. We are selling most of them in our community, restaurants in Chiang Mai, as well as the Suan Nguen Mee Ma shop in Bangkok. There are also online markets: Agri-Eco Thailand and Pasak Farm Shop, created by young farmers in Thailand that we sell our products to.
As time expanded, we have seen many customers coming to the farm themselves to buy our products.
Because organic farming involves driving the whole food chain, we need to connect producers and consumers together.
That is why we initiated farming-related activities including Farm Market, Farm Sharing, and Farm Stay so consumers can connect with the farm.
However, we quickly realized that a genuine sustainability should cooperate other stakeholders to achieve wider impact.
With the support from Thai Health Promotion Fund, we created GreenConnex project to build connection with the farmers in our community working on 5 platforms: green farmer, green market, green consumer, green policy, and green entrepreneur.
The first phase is training and capacity building for farmers on organic agriculture. This is followed by the second phase on the acquirement of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) certification. The PGS committee involves all stakeholders including farmers, supported organizations, experts, and entrepreneurs. Then, the last phase is to connect farmers with market channels such as green markets, restaurants, and hotels.
Follow-up process is key to farmers otherwise they will disappear.
Building trust between farmers requires consistent follow up with them and all stakeholders should do it together. It’s necessary to maintain the group because it gives them the opportunity to discuss about current trend, rules, price, and other technical knowledge. More importantly, farmers do not feel alone and ensured that there is a market access for them.
Apart from community work, I am also a coordinator for the Mekong-Y Farm which is a group of young organic farmers in the Mekong region.
Under GreenConnex and partners, we implement advocacy and campaigning work such as food literacy, and food security to help bring consumer awareness about where food comes from, how it is made, and the issues accompanied it.
Working as a group and network is the heart of organic success
We, young organic farmers, can be the agents of change, but we need to realize that individualism does not work. In order to drive the movement, the overall organic food chain needs to be addressed and networking is key to this achievement.
Moreover, our biggest inspiration comes from ourselves. For me, it stems from my choice of happiness and that choice is sustainability in my community.