The Thai Government needs to find the right markets for organic rice before encouraging farmers to increase the cultivating area from 300,000 rai (48,000 hectares) to 1 million rai in 2019, said President of the Thai Rice Exporters Association Charoen Leothamatas.
He said that local farmers want specific instruction on how to grow organic rice in line with global standards before cultivating them in a large scale.
The government plays an important role in helping farmers apply international standards into growing organic rice, from providing seedlings to seeking markets.
Meanwhile, Montri Gosalawat, Secretary-General of the Progressive Farmer Association, said that it is considerable potential for markets of Thai organic rice if local farmers know how to develop seedlings to meet demands of consumers in large markets like the US or the EU.
The global demand for organic rice averages 10,000 tonnes per year, of which Thailand exports half. With the demand growth of 20 percent a year, Thailand has great potential to develop and export organic rice if the government supports knowledge, applications for certification and development of seedlings and market sourcing.
Production costs for organic rice are normally cheaper than chemical rice farms. However its price is higher because growing time is longer, which means there is just one crop a year, while demand is higher in both domestic and foreign markets.
The Thai government targets to attract 3 million farmers in organic rice plantation in an area of 10 million rai by 2021 so that organic rice productivity can expanded 200 percent and organic rice can be sold at lower price.
Currently, the export of organic rice from Thailand accounts for only 5,000 tonnes of a total 11 million tonnes exported per year.