Seed saving, an 11,000 year old process, is under threat.
Few Thai farmers are self-reliant and in control of their seeds. The majority purchases generic seed strains, prone to disease, lacking flavor. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides have to be bought as well. "Q logo", the most prominent Thai organic label, authorized by the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS), even allows some of those chemicals in its organic guidelines.
Selection year over year of strongest seeds adapted to the rice grower's paddies and its local ecosystem results in a healthy, nutritious, high yielding grain while ensuring biodiversity and expanding the natural gene pool, which, in our view, is crazy important for our future.
GMO crops in Thailand are redundant: corn, tomato, soy, papaya (and cotton) often are genetically modified.
Luckily, the national rice master plan outlines a policy which intends to ensure Thailand's reputation as a non-GMO rice exporter and we are not aware of genetically modified rice growing in Thailand.
When we find out otherwise, we'll do an update.
The 1960's Green Revolution and the construction of several strategic dams at the time brought major changes, water could be controlled and Thailand's agriculture grew into an industry. Farmers started growing rice twice, and even 3 times, a year. In 30 years time rice yields doubled.
Meanwhile soil degraded and other types of produce (read other sources of income) were neglected which led into contract farming, the norm today. Farmers own less land and most heirloom seeds are lost. There is no sense of self-reliance anymore, skills don't matter either.
We select farmers who (want to) own land, save seeds, practice crop rotation and grow rice once a year only.
According to the FiBL, organic production in Thailand has progressed steadily since 1998 with a yearly average growth of almost 40 percent. Still, organic farming is rare in most parts of Thailand.
Grassroots and academic support is on the rise. We know of collaborative incentives by the government and local temples to provide organic compost and fertilizer.
Among young urban Thai there still isn't much appeal in moving into the countryside and start a small organic farm.