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Rice is the staple of Thai people and the pillar of the Thai economy.

For years, we had been the biggest producer of rice in the global market. We pride ourselves on our rice expertise as the main producer of one of the most sought after rice “White Jasmine “. We even perfected the cultivation processes to have 2 harvests per year. Unfortunately, we have driven ourselves out of the world market lately.

With the recent political crisis in Thailand, we rediscovered the significance of RICE. The rice scandal was one of the final dagger that brought down the previous government. The scandal not only caused a rift between the rice farmers and the government who claimed its success from the support of rural people, it also saw the Prime Minister being implicated in the corruption of the Rice pledging scheme. The allegation of the corruption exposed the government  officials and politicians’ numerous wrongdoings at many levels. Layers upon layers of corruptions were uncovered in every step of the way from the harvest to the dining table, ruining the rice industry. Today, if you mention the word “rice”, most Thais will feel a light pang in their heart. It does not matter which side they are on, it has become a symbol of Thais’ painful experience. I believe that if we had stayed true to our past and taken the sustainable route, we would have not been where we were today.

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One of the good things about the political reform proposed by the junta is to make the rice industry more sustainable by lowering the cost and abolishing the rice pledging scheme. This reform plan is very encouraging to us because, at Asian Oasis, we have tirelessly tried to convince the farmers around our lodges to use natural fertilizers and pesticides.  They are both inexpensive and not harmful to the environment. This way, they will become less dependent on imported chemical fertilizers. Then, it will create for greener, cleaner and sustainable industry.

At Lisu Lodge, we have a small-scale fertilizer production. We produce about 60,000 kg per year of fertilizers by collecting leaves, branches and other organic waste. We know it is easier to buy bags of fertilizer but we accept no other ways other than incorporating the natural way into our farming process. For this reason, we employ villagers to produce organic fertilizer.

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Today, we still rely on processed natural pesticide. However, we are looking forward to producing our local and natural pesticide that will be used in our rice paddies at Lisu Lodge. Unlike the fertilizer, we will have to grow our own pesticide plants, harvest and process it.  We will work with the local community to educate them about the benefits of natural farming.

It is my hope that this agricultrual reform will lead the way for greener and sustainable solution and become popular and accepted by the grassroots who are predominately rice farmers. If we are able to achieve this goal, I believe Thailand will become a strong leader in sustainable living. The bitterness and political shamble of the country may pave the way for the new era for RICE.

“Rice is life” in Thailand and in more ways than one.

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Farmers are planting young rice saplings in a field in front of Lisu Lodge