Presently rice, the major food crop, is in crisis. Many rice producing countries such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand are facing difficulties of production because of natural disasters that result in a reduction in rice yield. Furthermore, the amount of paddy fields has been decreasing continuously. Farmers would rather shift to energy crops such as sugar cane, maize, and cassavas because they yield more profit. The government of Thailand is well aware of this difficulty, so it has released various campaigns for quality rice production to be enough for domestic and foreign consumption.
The Swankhalok Cooperative Land Settlement Office, a government agency under Cooperative Promotion Department located in SrinakhonDistrict; Sukhothai Province has a duty to allocate land of 6,557 hectares to 2,500 farmer families for farming and living. Members of 90% are engaged with rice farming. Since the soil is fertile enough for agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives then announced this area to be suitable for rice of S1.
Before the initiative, rice farming in this area relied on chemical substances. Farmers used large amounts of chemical fertilizer, insecticide, etc. The amount of chemicals used was likely increasing year by year while rice farming tended to yield less productivity. Farmers were faced with higher costs gradually, in 2008 spending 1,600 baht/acre, rising to 2,700 baht/acre in 2012, or 350 baht/acre in average. So, they could shift from rice farming to sugar cane instead. However, the problem was still there when sugar cane was not the crop the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives promoted in that area because of the soil quality that was not suitable for sugar cane farming. The promotion of the Ministry was in terms of financial and technical assistance that affected their stable professional and quality of life. Furthermore, assistance from government agencies had overlapped or had no integration that found the solution effectively. Farmers lacked knowledge of planting and soil nourishment, so they need more chemical fertilizer that caused soil degradation and health problems for consumers.
From the problem above, the Swankhalok Cooperative Land Settlement Office initiated the farmer-centered project of increasing productivity of rice in Sawankhalok Cooperative Land Settlement. The project intended to focus on integration of resources from involved partners; provision of knowledge on cost reduction.