Thai farmer’s journey to organic success

12 July 2023
ITC News

Sutee Preechawut is a Mangosteen farmer from Chantaburi.

He grew up in farms, witnessing the commonplace use of pesticides to protect crops. However, the turning point came when his father's health was affected by the accumulation of these chemicals in his body.

Determined to make a change, they transitioned to organic farming, and that decision opened a new world of possibilities.

During a visit to Bangkok, he had the opportunity to engage with consumers, receive feedback on the value they gave to the consumption of safe food, and understand their yearning for both delicious and healthy food.

It became clear that his farming practices had to evolve to meet the clients’ needs.

He was identified by Maejo University Thailand as one of the suitable candidates for the trainings conducted by the International Trade Centre (ITC). He participated in the Training of Trainers (ToT) for organic Mangosteen production as well as the Export Coaching Management Initiative (ECMI).   

The training exceeded his expectations – “Rather than simply teaching us how to grow mangosteens, the trainers focused on imparting knowledge about systems, best practices, and international standards such as the EU organic regulation. We realized that for thriving in the organic farming industry, we needed a holistic understanding of sustainable practices and compliance.

Sutee, finds the knowledge they gained from the training invaluable. It prompted them to make significant improvements in their existing farming practices.

We learned that contextual factors such as rainfall, humidity, and environmental conditions play a crucial role in achieving success. Embracing diversity in our farms and understanding which crops thrive in different environments became fundamental to our approach.

In the months leading up to the training, Sutee witnessed a growing interest in organic farming, as more and more people began taking it up.

As he started producing in excess, he began exploring processing techniques to extend the shelf life of his products. This allowed him to meet the continuous demand of mangosteens from consumers even when its season ended and helped ensure a consistent market for his organic produce.

Sutee’s organic farming journey has been smooth. The training provided him with the necessary tools and knowledge to navigate the industry successfully, and to further advance an already thriving organic farm production.

Although they had already been operating in accordance with the with the Thai Organic standards for 8 years, the training exposed them to key international organic standards and familiarize with better farming practices.

We are grateful for the guidance we received through the training, as it enabled us to adapt and thrive in the evolving organic market.

As Sutee continues on this path, he remains committed to sustainable organic farming, and the well-being of consumers.

His story is just one example of how small-scale farmers can transform their practices, benefit from training by learning about global standards, and contribute to a healthier and more sustainable future.

ITC, through the ARISE Plus Thailand project, funded by the European Union, has played a significant role in supporting many organic farmers like Sutee.

The project aims to support inclusive and sustainable economic growth through international trade in Thailand. It supports greater connectivity and economic integration between Thailand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region in line with the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025.

Under this overall objective, ITC supports the enhancement and dissemination of organic agricultural practices in line with EU standards.