Marketing and Consumer: Mindful Markets Movement

Young Organic Farmer 2020: Organic Seeds Production Training

11 August 2020, Chiang Mai, Thailand

KEY POINTS

  • There are 3 major market models in Thailand: community green market, CSA – consumer driven market, and CSA – institutional driven market.
  • All of these models reflect market channels in Thailand that tend to drive local economy. Co-design and collaboration are key towards the success of organic movement.
  • There is a trend towards a co-creation between business, civil society, and NGOs that are important for local economic growth.

Wallapa van Willenswaard, the co-founder of Suan Nguen Mee Ma social enterprise and managing director of Innovation Network International, shared her expertise with the Young Organic Farmers 2020 on the mindful markets movement in Thailand.

It is undeniable that market access is essential for organic farmers. Over the years, there have been more development of market venues in which farmers can derive their income from. Thailand is a good case study that Wallapa would like to share with us.

Development of Organic Market in Thailand

Almost three decades, Thailand has started its long journey on organic movement. Surin, the province in Northeastern of Thailand, was the first organic rise in the country. However, the exported market was its only option. This prompted the development of local organic market called ‘community green market’. It is a producer-driven market with farmers grouping and working together to create a market in their locality. The idea was spread across the country which saw the model applied in Chiang Mai and many more.

Despite the development, it was insufficient. That was when Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA) was formed. In fact, Thailand is in this stage now with a more development toward institutional-driven CSA which operates with hospitals and schools. CSA is a consumer-driven market compared to the first model mentioned above. 

With the current development, there are 3 cases of each model that depicts market channels in Thailand.

Community Green Market: Lad Tai Nod Eco-Tourism Market

Lad Tai Nod, a community green market in Phatthalung, a province South of Thailand, was created in 1995 by a group of small-holder farmers. It is a self-organizing market with regular meetings and division of labor based on peer governance. It has more than 200 goods sold in the market with other related-businesses such as hotels and restaurants. 

CSA – Consumer Driven Market: Indigenous market in Supan Buri

This indigenous market is in the central part of Thailand which began in 2003. They are the Karen indigenous group with 8-10 farmer families and Bangkok-based network of 100 consumer families. They drop off their products in 12 locations and they also organize farm activities. Their income is $552/month.

CSA – Institutional Driven Market: Thai School Lunch Program (TSL)

This model is the current CSA development in Thailand. The Thai School Lunch Program was initiated in Chomphra community in Surin province. It is currently working with 100 schools. 

There are 3 tools enabling the success of the initiative: Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), TSL, and community enterprise. For local food economy, PGS certification is needed. TSL is the program that allows schools and farmers to discuss and cooperate on school menu and farm production plan. Community enterprise is necessary for farmers to register as a group because of the green procurement in Thailand. They are also organizing a weekly market to help farmers earn more income. 

All of these indicate that we need a co-design model where everyone needs to be involved for local economic growth.

Civil Society and Business are NOT Separated anymore.

From the 3 cases above, we have increasingly seen social enterprise, NGOs, and business sectors collaborating with each other. It is the direction that South East Asian countries need to go forward. It can foster local food economy which, in turn, has an implication for food security.

Start small. Start with what you have and it will expand.

It is easy to be discouraged when facing with a surmountable amount of effort put into each of the 3 cases. 

However, I would like us and young organic farmers to start with the capital that we have. “If you have 10 schools, organize 10 schools.”

Then, the expansion of our model will occur later. More importantly, co-design and collaboration from different sectors are needed and they are behind the success of these 3 cases.

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