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Lunch Seminar Series: Prof. Ian Baird
December 2, 2021 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
STS Lunch Seminar with Ian Baird, Professor, Geography
Going Organic: Agrarian Change and Challenges for Government-Supported Organic Rice Promotion in Thailand
Thursday, December 2, 12:30-1:30 pm, via Zoom
There is increasing interest in organic lowland rice cultivation in Thailand. Farmers are becoming more wary about the human health and environmental impacts of using herbicides and pesticides. In addition, rice consumers are increasingly demanding rice cultivated without the use of chemicals. There is also more interest in accessing international and local organic rice markets. With the above in mind, in 2017 the government of Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives rolled out a project designed to promote through subsidizing the conversion of one million rai (160,000 hectares) of lowland rice farms from non-organic to organic over a three-year period. Although the initiative was well intended, it has faced serious obstacles due to the organic certification standards associated with the project not aligning with international standards. This has negatively impacted the structures that support organic farming, by giving farmers unrealistic expectations regarding what is required to produce organic rice for the international market. Applying a political ecology approach to examine the one million rai project, it is contended that what I call ‘certification nationalism’ is part of the problem, and that there are important lessons to be learned about planning and rolling out such initiatives.