Young farmers turn to social media to stimulate growth
published : 1 Nov 2016 at 08:00
newspaper section: News
writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
The rice price crisis may be a pressing problem for most rice growers, but not for a group of young farmers who know how to exploit sales through social media.
For Pongpat Sukarbjai, the key to selling crops is in reducing the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
The 29 year-old master's degree student at the Faculty of Economics at Kasetsart University manages 100 rai of paddy fields in Bang Len district of Nakhon Pathom.
Less use of chemicals is making up for the modest productivity of the farm because some customers prefer organic produce.
Previously, all the rice he harvested went to the mill. Later, he turned to social media as a channel for marketing and selling his rice berry, at a healthy 100 baht per kg, and his rice was well-received.
He also sells the fragrant Hom Mali rice online, which enables him to sell the crop at 14,000 baht per tonne, compared to 8,000 baht per tonne on the market.
"I have sold the rice both online and to the mill.
"For me, the mill is still an important place to sell rice, but the online channel provides an alternative point of sale. It allows you to sell other farm products as well," he said.
Mr Pongpat said he designed his farm to be an integrated one where fruits are grown and fish and chickens are raised, to lessen his reliance on a single crop. The method helps control the supply of rice going to the market, which keeps the rice prices high.
Nalinpaht Puttijarungvong, a 34-year-old farmer with a bachelor's degree from Bangkok University and who owns 21 rai of paddy fields in Prasat district in Surin, said she has secured contracts to sell 10 tonnes of her Hom Mali and rice berry with 20 customers through online sales.
The online channel has severed her dependence on rice mills, which bought her rice at low prices. Her success rests with how to control rice quality and create trust among her customers.
"The more customers open up to farmers, the more they will get good products at lower prices," said the owner of the brand Kon Plook Khao…Look Chao Na (Rice Growers....Farmer's Offspring).
Farmers should use less fertiliser and chemicals, which would reduce production costs by more than half, Ms Nalinpaht said.
The trend of selling rice on social media has surged recently after many young farmers decided to reach out directly to consumers to avoid the middlemen.
Decharut Sukkumnoed, an Economics faculty lecturer at Kasetsart University, said the low price of rice is being caused by a large volumes going on the market while world demand for consumption is decreasing.