Organic food serves as lure
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Organic food serves as lure

Mr Arrut says the association believes there is demand among locals and expatriates to trace organic food on its platform.
Mr Arrut says the association believes there is demand among locals and expatriates to trace organic food on its platform.

The Thai Organic Consumer Association (TOCA) is hoping to drive organic tourism with Phuket as a pilot province, in a bid to connect hotels and consumers with farmers through digital technology and incentive reward programmes.

Arrut Navaraj, president of TOCA, said adopting technology would add information transparency to the organic product ecosystem for all consumers along the food chain.

The TOCA platform, an e-commerce marketplace, helps farmers sell their organic products directly to mid-stream consumers, such as hotels and restaurants, who serve downstream consumers and tourists.

Buyers can trace these products on the system, preventing exploitation and greenwashing.

TOCA worked to guarantee the quality of the crops and open more distribution channels to farmers, allowing them to check their yield analytics.

The association partnered with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to drive organic tourism through its platform in Phuket since 2021, during the Phuket Sandbox scheme.

Mr Arrut said roughly 10 farmers joined the platform in Phuket because there are not many farmers in the province.

Phuket's agricultural products are mostly from Ratchaburi province.

The platform wants to engage more farmers from nearby provinces such as Krabi and Phangnga.

As some hotels currently plant their own organic products, they can also be included in the platform, he said.

Current partners in Phuket include Grand Mercure Phuket Patong, Trisara Resort, Torry's Ice Cream, and Baan Suan Pakkudthong Organic Garden.

TOCA expects an effective output from Phuket by mid-year, and wants to expand its pilot project to other provinces, including Chiang Mai and Krabi, said Mr Arrut.

He said one challenge is how to get hotels to consistently order organic products from farmers on the platform.

All transactions are measured with the "Earth Point" reward system, which tallies organic product purchases and allows hotels to reduce their carbon footprint by sending food waste back to farmers, said Mr Arrut.

He said this system could help increase value and incentives for partnered hotels and restaurants, luring more responsible tourists to visit or hold meetings at their businesses.

These tourists could also visit organic farms and collect their own points.

Many hotels, both self-owned and chain hotels such as Marriott The Athenee Hotel and Grand Hyatt, have expressed an interest in joining the platform, said Mr Arrut.

In the long run, he said organic tourism could become a priority for all provinces across the country.

Mr Arrut hopes the TOCA platform can drive tourists to visit producers, organic farms, restaurants and hotels in the network.

TOCA recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association to develop a carbon measurement system for operators, which can be converted into Earth Points afterwards.

As most individual customers are Thais, he hopes to expand the consumer target to expatriates living in the country soon.

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