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Linking the farmers-private companies-end users to establish a certification scheme to promote sustainable livelihood of smallholders
Thailand ranks among the world’s top-ten exporters of chicken. And in fact, it exports only 30 per cent of the chicken it farms – the rest is eaten domestically. As a result, the mountains of grain needed to produce chicken-feed have caused more than 5 million acres of agricultural and forest land to be cleared for maize farming. The current farming practices of maize have also caused several problems to local communities as well as urban dwellers: the excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has caused soil deterioration and contaminated water sources; widespread clearing of forestlands has led to flooding and landslides resulting in road accidents and crop damage; burning of maize residuals (after harvesting) has caused smoke and haze affecting health. Currently, the farmers and the private sector seem to have little incentive to contribute to a sustainable supply chain. The key therefore lies in building the confidence between farmers, chicken feed buyers, and final consumers (supermarkets, fast food franchise chain, and restaurants) on the benefits of involving in the sustainable maize production and consumption.
UNDP looks to address these issues by linking together the farmers-private companies-end users who are the key actors in the supply chain in order to establish a standard and certification scheme which would set (1) a requirement for sustainable maize farming, (2) provide premium/extra cash for maize growers who meet such standard, and (3) assure that the final consumer recognize the value of this effort through the certification and labeling works.
UNDP Thailand brought together the different actors in the poultry industry for a field meeting in the northern Thai province of Petchaboon, where maize has largely been grown.
With the entire supply chain of maize, farmers to feed producers, chicken ranchers, and final consumers gathered in one room, the meeting aimed to generate ideas for “win-win solutions” that might alter the current farming/business practices towards a more sustainable approach. These consultations will form the backbone of an incentive scheme to be developed by UNDP’s “Sustainable Maize Supply Chain” project in partnership with the Thai government starting 2015.