WWF-Thailand and TDRI proposes measures to support Thailand’s transition towards sustainable agriculture
Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) Foundation addresses Thailand’s agricultural production mode as the country faces serious environmental challenges; offering mitigation strategies and measures to turn forest-encroaching mono-agriculture with intensive use of chemicals, to sustainable modes of agriculture production. Measures to connect farmers to green credits to raise farm productivity and economic viability were also addressed in the workshop.
Through an initiative to bridge the policy knowledge and capacity gaps for the research, “The Development of mitigation strategies and measures for sustainable consumption and production (SCP) in agricultural sector,” WWF-Thailand, in partnership with TDRI, held a consultation workshop to present the research findings as recommendations towards the promotion of a policy instrument to achieve deforested-free food supply chain in the context of environmental sustainability and rural community development. The workshop also aimed to provide an open space for cross-learning and feedback on the research findings from key representatives of supporting government ministries, civil society organizations, and private sectors.
Lead Researcher, Dr. Kannika Thampanishvong from TDRI, highlights on Thailand as an important key player in the world’s agricultural and food sectors, being both a prominent regional food producer and consumer. It is thus an important sector in terms of the country’s economic development and income generation. Nevertheless, the country is facing serious environmental challenges due to the rapid agriculture sector growth, such as water and air pollution. In order to help restore the environment by stopping destruction of the forest resources and its ecosystem services, the implementation of sustainable food system and climate change mitigation need be promoted.
From the research, several key mitigation measures towards sustainable agriculture production were suggested. Firstly, focusing on sustainable management of farming methods that does not involve forest encroachment or excessive use of chemicals (i.e. pesticides, herbicides) should be encouraged among farmers. Proper implementation of forest-based economy as site-specific solutions should also be conducted; allowing for farmers to produce under forest cover.
Secondly, making the transition towards sustainable agriculture can often have high upfront costs, requiring for high investment during its initial phase. Measures of debt repayment should be introduced to farmers that are transitioning towards sustainable modes of farming, including the provision of green credit to farmers at lower interest rates.
Thirdly, integrating tax deductions among farmers that uses biological substances for agricultural use and entrepreneurs that supports the use of sustainable agricultural products. However, more research into the use of biologically substances for agriculture that does not affect the consumer and the environment need be conducted.
TDRI scholars adds that, today, farmers of sustainable produce still have limited access to distribution market channels. There is still the need to develop and implement viable economic measures to increase local market channels and retail business units for sustainable produce, alongside the establishment of regulations, standards, and certification for agricultural exports that is recognized both in Asia and in the international market. Additional provision of traceability systems can also bolster consumer confidence in products and brands.