Phrae Rice Seed Center
Rice Department, Thailand

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The average yield rice production in Thailand is relatively low compared to neighboring countries in ASEAN. One of the reasons, Thai farmers is accustomed to and follows the way their ancestors grew rice in the past; they are still employing this method until the present. In the past, there was a small population in the country, plenty of land to grow rice, soil fertility, and production of rice just to feed their households. Currently, the population has been increasing drastically which then increased the demand for rice. Rice production has increased which resulted in the rapid using up of resources, depletion of soil nutrients, epidemic of insects’ pest problems, and overused of chemical fertilizers and insecticides by farmers. Those were the reasons of having better production and insects’ pest free which consequently resulted in the accumulation of soil contamination and deterioration of the soil structure. Additionally, the burning of straw facilitates farmers to grow rice continuously and at the same time caused air pollution, and added to global warming. In order to taper off the problems, it is necessary to provide knowledge and understanding in accordance with the academic guidelines to all farmers. As such, 50 regional centers of Rice Department to provide services to farmers have been set up. Phrae Rice Research Center is one of the centers, which has been setup as a center for knowledge and data resources in relation to rice growing as well as providing various services to farmers such as epidemic insects’ pest problems, pest control and extermination, soil improvement and analysis, and recommendation of suitable paddy seeds according to various localities. From the past operation of the center, there were very few farmers that availed themselves of the services as the location is far from their houses. Moreover, farmers have to set aside their time and expenditure for travelling. Even though the officials have provided knowledge via the Internet, only a few farmers had the chance to gain access to the technology. As a consequence, a concept to set up a mobile unit car by having equipment and academic knowledge deliver to the farmers’ houses was implemented. The purpose is to provide them with knowledge, to have them correctly understand how to grow rice in accordance with academic guidelines on how to increase rice productivity with appropriate costs and without destroying the environment.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The insufficient knowledge of farmers is the one of the reasons that makes the development of rice growing pursue in an unguided way. Solving the problem might affect and create other problems for example attempting to raise rice productivity by using chemical fertilizers to increase nutrients for rice. In reality, the plant may lack one of the nutrients while soil condition may have sufficient nutrients to grow such a plant. However, soil structure does not allow releasing such nutrients for the benefit of the plant, so the improvement of soil structure should be sufficient. Moreover, use of chemical fertilizers creates loss and waste as well as an increase in costs, which is not cost, efficient and effective in terms of investment. It is therefore a responsibility of the Department of Rice officers to transfer academic knowledge to comply with the farmers’ problems. Transfer of knowledge can be done by many different methods, i.e. teaching in person by visiting farmers which was considered over utilization of officers and expenditures; group learning by inviting each group of farmers who have the same requirements or alike to attend the training, or conducting a demonstration farmland in a community. Such guidelines or methods to transfer the knowledge to farmers are generally employed. Selections of any guidelines or methods depend of the urgency of the problem as well as the nature of the community. However, farmers have to accept any technologies rendered to them. It is necessary that farmers have to accept them. Thai farmers are usually good followers. If farmers realized that anyone in a community gained benefits from such practices, they will follow accordingly. Especially if such a person is a highly respectable one, acceptance and practice will help speeding up the activities. The following are guidelines and methods to pass on knowledge to farmers: 1.Location and community outreach for the purpose of convenience; 2.Provided knowledge that shall serve the requirements. 3.Transfer of knowledge to a leading person in a community. 4.To provide quick solutions to problems and to solve problems in a timely manner.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The Rice Farmer Seed Center (RFSC) of Rice Seed Center or Rice Research Center was set up in the regions covering countrywide areas of rice planting for the purpose of a knowledge bank for farmers. From 2006 up to the present, it reveals that some of the RFSCs have been well received. Many farmers are interested in obtaining services and knowledge while some other centers are less attractive to the farmers. One of the reasons is the distance of the Center, which is far away from the community, which causes few farmers to request the services. On the contrary, the nearer the Center is to the community, the more farmers request the services. Apart from a long distance, one of the services that farmers would like to have is a variety of knowledge that cover many areas. Services provided shall cover all aspects in one place, per se, One Stop Service. Approaches and guidelines to improve the RFSC are to set up a mobile unit car to provide services to farmers at their houses for the purpose of convenience so that everyone in a family can learn together at the same time. The mobile unit cars shall also have knowledge resources banks as well a variety of services in relation to growing rice, soil analysis, rice cultivation from growing until harvesting, value adding to rice, harvesting, etc. These are type of services that farmers wish to have without spending their money to travel as well as to provide better convenience. However, in order to maintain a sustainable development, it is necessary to develop the representatives of farmers in the community who will obtain knowledge from Rice Department officers and further extend such knowledge to farmers in the community under the name of “Smart Farmer”. The Rice Department will set guidelines to determine remuneration for the Smart Farmer in order to encourage them to act as representatives to provide knowledge to farmers on development of rice growing with efficiency and without destroying the environment.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
To improve the quality of the RFSC system in order to distribute rice knowledge resources to farmers and related persons so that it can directly serve their requirements and quickly solve their problems for the benefits of their profession. The strategies are as follows: 1.To develop knowledge resources to be accessible by farmers From an academic study, the transfer of technology to be utilized in the extension work in order to distribute it to different areas and to be used by farmers, it is expected that farmers will apply the knowledge resources and utilize them with the available resources. Efficiencies in utilizing the knowledge resources depend on learning processes, experiences and production management of the farmers. 1.1In order to start a management of knowledge resources for a community, primary information, living conditions, locality condition of the community shall be available at hand. Issues shall be defined emphasizing on what are the topics that the community wants to study; make a summary from a community forum or use survey results in order to know the requirements of the community. Local wisdom shall be synthesized with modern technologies for compilation of comprehensive knowledge resources. These can be classified in accordance with the utilization in producing rice. They are knowledge resources in producing rice seeds, rice, create value-added of rice and innovative or any other acceptable procedures that can solve problems in the community. 1.2The improvement of services types has been carried out systematically which provides normal services at the RFSC, Prae Rice Seed Center and by Smart Farmers Mobile Car Unit, which will lessen farmers’ time to obtain services. Comprehensive knowledge resources will be mobilized to the communities in forms of lectures, practice, articles, and videos. Officers who provide the services will be in the field to acknowledge the real situation and conditions in order to correctly solve problems. The Mobile Car Unit will be on service to the community once a month according to the work plan schedule. 1.3To coordinate with various agencies in the areas and act as a network to transfer specific topics and integrate related knowledge resources of rice production, i.e. as a speaker for soil improvement, using fresh manure for soil improvement, and water management. 2.To encourage participation of the community 2.1To set up community groups according to the type of production, such as rice seed production group, rice community center, agriculture community, and rice seed village in Uttaradit Province in order to create a production and marketing network. Additionally, it helps and accelerates officials to coordinate with the community; it also helps develop networks of production and production distribution among different groups in other provinces. 2.2To support coordination and collaboration by organizing community forums in the community in order to define learning topics, learning plans and lessons learned including follow up and problem resolution as well as conducting evaluation of work and satisfaction. 3.Development of Staff and Farmers 3.1 To develop center staff to be a speaker in order to transfer knowledge, to provide continuous training and seminars in order to develop and obtain new technology, to make the handbook practice available and to promote knowledge to farmers as well as management of information through radio programs. 3.2 To develop farmers who have grown rice and achieved good economic returns enabling them to purse a better quality of life. Searching and selecting of suitable farmers who have related quality or qualities among the four categories to be a farmer leader has been carried out. 3.3 Smart Farmer on Rice Seed Production 3.4 Smart Farmer on Promotion of Rice Farming 3.5 Smart Farmer on Creation of Rice Value-Added 3.6 Smart Farmer on Rice Production Innovation The motivation Process is to provide the Mobile Car with knowledge resources, the authorities cooperation and Smart Farmer leaderships to convey knowledge to the communities which more than the normal service of the RFSC at Phrae Center.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
A concept of setting up RFSC was due the fact that The Rice Department was a new authority, which has regional offices not covering all provinces, but it has responsibilities to monitor rice production and farmers all over the country. In 2007, the Director-General of Rice Department, Mr. Apichat Pongsrihadoolchai increased service channels to farmers by setting up RFSC in 27 Rice Research Centers and 23 Rice Seed Centers, totaling 50 centers. The objectives are to provide services on information and technology transfer relating to rice production including providing inspection services and solving farmers’ problems in a timely manner. RFSC consists of farmers’ libraries, knowledge bank on rice exhibition, community radio program to provide up-to-date knowledge, and One Stop Service selling rice seeds. Farmers can request services but have to fill in service forms and file them with the officials at the center. If the farmers have some problems to send samples of rice seeds or seedlings, soil, water, diseases, flies, rice insects’ pest, they can directly request for services from the center. In the event that the inspection cannot be done at the center, the authority in the area that has experience shall carry out the inspection, i.e. Rice Research Center, District Land Development Station, and District Agricultural Extension Office. The Director of Prae Rice Seed Center, Mr. Teerapong Puttaraksa, who supported the service of the mobile car unit to Uttapradit Province, started the improvement of Smart Farmer Service Center in 2010. According to the information in setting up community groups in Uttaradit Province, there are currently six groups of communities/rice producers and rice processing, the numbers of which members vary. The groups are farmers groups, Village 4, Sub-District Rai Oy, District Pichai, Village 8, Sub-District Kohroom, District Pichai, Village 2, Sub-District Kohroom, District Pichai, Village 7, Sub-District Ta Mafueng, District Pichai, Village 3, Sub-District Wangdin, District Muang and Village 4, Sub-District Baan Siew, District Tapla, Uttaradit Province. There are two groups of organic rice producers; they are farmers groups Village 3, Sub-District Wangdin, District Muang, Uttaradit Province and farmers group Village 2, Sub-District Kohroom, District Pichai, Uttaradit Province. In order to have continued transfers of technologies and strongly put them into practice, it is necessary to have leading persons in the community efficiently and effectively implement the activities. Farmers in the community would be able to put them into practice and solve their problems. Prae Rice Seed Center has sought for the farmers in the four categories of knowledge resource groups from within the areas through selection of each level; they are from province, District, Sub-District of Rice Department levels. These persons are well accepted by the community, which then makes the centers to have four categories of Smart Farmers, namely: -Mr. Banjerd Nakyanyao, Smart Farmer on rice production and breeding of seeds -Mr. Pipat Jeentang, Smart Farmer on Promotion of Rice Farming -Mr. Atsadang Seeharat, Smart Farmer on Creation of Rice Value-Added -Mr. Pratueng Srisook, Smart Farmer on Rice Production Innovation
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Budget supporting the operation from Rice Department of 80,000 Baht per annum is an operating budget for public relations, organizing of printing and publications and following up of work at The Rice Farmer Center in order to develop and improve the center to become a rice knowledge bank. One microbus, which has been assigned as a mobile service unit, of which the interior has been modified to be loaded with various rice knowledge resources, is available to provide services to farmers covering the whole area. Quality inspection services are available such as moisture, seeds, in bred line of seeds, etc. Staff from the Center is officials from the Prae Rice Seed Center who provide knowledge, consultation and pay visits to community groups in the areas and other officials of concerned authorities. There are 14 projects operating in areas of Uttaradit Province, which provide a number of activities that link to and enhance support of the mobile service of the Center. The integration of activities in transferring of knowledge to farmers, demonstrating of procedures, practicing, conducting experimental rice field including following up on the activities which can be used together have been initiated. The mobile unit car from Rice Seed Center has to get cooperation from various authorities i.e. the Office of Agricultural Extension Province supporting to strengthen farmer group, Ultraradit Rajabhat Institute and Mae Jo University supporting the innovative technology, Agricultural Cooperative for Marketing supporting the marketing Channel, Community Health Center taking care of Health community and Radio Thailand, Phrae Provice, community Radio supporting public communication.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The most important outputs for the operation of the Smart Farmers Service Center can be clearly identified as: 1.Community Learning Center for Extensive Service Development promotes group gatherings among farmers to learn and to develop rice production based on the situation in the community. It is a knowledge base that solves farmers’ problems, and helps analyze strengths and weaknesses of the community. It also helps in developing rice production, which basically requires inputs and factors from the local environment. These are important principles to create sustainable rice farming for farmers and would be able to support food security and continually maintain a balance of the environment of the community. 2.There are 421 individual farmers (203 existing farmers and 218 new farmers) and two groups in the community who follow the Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) system and were certified as a good agricultural practice for rice production from The Rice Department. Rice GAP system provides quality products and safety both to producers and consumers. Farmers have to be aware of their practice and accuracy and make suitable use of agricultural inputs especially use of chemicals to protect or exterminate rice pests. Farmers have to learn how to use chemicals. There must be a survey of rice fields before using chemicals and must use the chemicals correctly by carefully reading the details on the labels as well as storing chemicals properly so as not to be harmful to anyone. 3.There are four categories of Smart Farmers who are leaders and speakers to transfer knowledge to farmers in the community, they are: -Mr. Banjerd Nakyanyao, Smart Farmer on rice production and breeding of seeds -Mr. Pipat Jeentang, Smart Farmer on Promotion of Rice Farming -Mr. Atsadang Seeharat, Smart Farmer on Creation of Rice Value-Added -Mr. Pratueng Srisook, Smart Farmer on Rice Production Innovation Four Smart Farmers are farmers living in communities and will stay in the areas, which can continuously carry out their work and would be able to obtain information and new or upcoming events or farmers’ problems in the communities. They would be able to respond quickly to the upcoming events and problems, which helps resolve the distance and discontinuity of RFSC’s normal service. 4.Sources of rice seed production in a community Farmers have a good quality of rice seeds for rice farming. From the operation of RFSC in cooperation with Smart Farmers of Baan Klong Kluay, District Pichai, Uttaradit Province, there are 12 community rice centers set up which can produce standard quality rice seeds of 1,010 tons/year to distribute extensively to farmers in the community covering 50,000 rais (8,000 hectares). It is considered a success in promoting the use of quality rice seeds for rice farming as it is a basic and important input for efficient development of rice production for rice farmers. The Rice Community Center at Baan Klong Gluay, Sub-District Kohroom, Uttaradit Province has been selected as an outstanding operation service center at national level in 2010 and has received an award from the Crown Prince of Thailand. 5.Increase Farmers’ Production Efficiency in the Community Originally, the cost in producing rice per Rai (0.16 hectare) is relatively low. The production can be increased to 750 Kg/Rai (750 kg/0.16 hectare) on average while the cost of production ranges from 3,000–5,000 Baht/Rai (0.16 hectare). The quality of life of farmers was better and healthier. There is a blood test for farmers to check for the level of chemicals in the body every year. It was discovered that there were few chemicals left behind in the fields. 6.Model Center for Smart Farmers Service Center The center was set up to extend its service to other areas and to be knowledge resources for other groups so that they would be able to develop and improve the operation services to meet its goal, and also to create and develop farmers to cooperate in solving problems and analyze personal requirements, as well as to create a system that provides knowledge and helps each farmer in the community. These guidelines will lead to sustainable development. 7.Health Promotion by people in the community

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The operation of Smart Farmers Service Center is a development and improvement derived from the old farmers’ service center which operated in its place and farmers from Uttaradit Province have to travel to the center in order to obtain recommendations or knowledge to develop rice farming. There are only a few farmers who travel to the center. Guidelines of Smart Farmer Service Center are to bring the concept of building farmers’ school in the community by using community areas as a learning place and to study and perform activities. There will be a Smart Farmer who has knowledge with hands-on experience to be a role model for the development of rice growing. During the operation, there are systematic follow up procedures for progress and problems and obstacles. They are as follows: 1.There will be a mobile unit car from Prae Rice Seed Center once a month to follow up and provide recommendations to farmers in the community and also to follow up and support the operation work of Smart Farmers. 2.Smart Farmers from each category will record their work, rice situation, problems and obstacles of farmers in the community in order to make a summary on efficiency of rice production and progress of the community. This data will be used as basic information for development and improvement of work the next year. 3.Officials from Prae Rice Seed Center follow up on the progress of the operation of Smart Farmers Center and meet up with the farmers in the community in order to review and to ensure that work operation is in line with the available system. 4.To set up meetings with Smart Farmers in order to follow up on progress and problems and obstacles during operation of work. As regards to an evaluation of work carried out by Smart Farmers Center, use of questionnaires will be utilized every year to evaluate service satisfaction and to obtain suggestions from farmers in the community. The summary of the results will be used for a continuity of quality service development.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The operation and development patterns of Smart Farmers Center are an integration of the guidelines for development of the operation of the mobile farmers’ center with Smart Farmers development in order to provide service on information and knowledge to farmers by using good agricultural practices enabling them to extensively increase efficiency in rice production per rai (hectare) and decreasing the cost of production with sustainability in the localities of Uttaradit Province which is far away from the Prae Rice Seed Center. It was discovered that the initial stage of operation had some significant problems and obstacles. They were: 1.Attitudes of Officials at Prae Rice Seed Center, who used to work at the Rice Service Center and now have to visit many different areas in Uttaradit Province with a mobile unit car, have to prepare for the operation including materials, equipment as well as organize personnel who are experts in the related field to transfer knowledge and efficiently solve problems for the farmers. To this respect, Prae Rice Seed Center has to develop officials’ capacity systematically and continually to be ready to provide knowledge to farmers including planning for an operation of mobile unit car to tally with the rice-farming season. 2.Attitudes of Farmers to accept Smart Farmers who are a network of RFSC. Smart Farmers are persons who live in the same community as other farmers. To develop Smart Farmers as a center of knowledge extension on rice requires a systematic process of training for the trainer plus a participatory approach in order to convince local farmers to accept Smart Farmers’ knowledge and their capacity, and to follow their recommendations to develop and change ways of rice farming which then lead to systematic rice farming with sustainability. 3.A selection of Smart Farmers to be a network of RFSC has to be carefully and cautiously carried out to ensure that the selected farmers would be able to be a Smart Farmer to pursue their roles and fulfill their targets. Smart Farmers have to possess a volunteer mind, be accepted by the farmers in the community, dedicate their time, be successful in rice farming, be healthy and have knowledge transfer skills and be a model in transferring technology, as well as be a representative to collaborate with the RFSC of Prae Rice Seed Center. 4.In order to make Smart Farmers be a center of rice knowledge transfer and to be accepted to farmers in the community, development on both theories and practice has to be carried out continually. It is a fundamental of rice production and knowledge base for development and adjustment to be in line with the changing situation. The main courses are: -Rice Production for Good Agricultural Production (GAP) -How to Lower the Cost of Rice Production -How to Produce Rice Seeds -How to Increase Value-Add of Rice -Ways of Life & Rice Culture -Replacement of Labor for Agriculture Machinery

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
RFSC has improved the services of Smart Farmers by ways of approach, being more accessible to people, and finding out the farmers’ requirements and providing services according to the requirements of the locals. Participatory approach and local wisdom play important parts in transferring knowledge to farmers as well as farmers’ learning directly from the experts. Those services create a learning network by having RFSC of Prae Rice Seed Center as a center to compile knowledge resources and liaise with officials to transfer academic knowledge, production technology and organize group gatherings in order to oversee production and the producing system. The first year results of operation to provide services to the community reveal that: 1.When services in the area have been expanded, the number of requests for services increased from 1,200 to 3,000 per annual. Satisfaction levels of farmers who received advice and participated in the project with Rice Seeds Center increased to 80% from 70%. 2.Farmers, who received academic advice, have been advised from local experts to learn about technology and bring them into practice, would be able to increase rice production by 10% - 20% on average. 3.The average of income has increased 12,500 bath or 403 us$. Income derived from agricultural products especially rice farming of district/community increased by 15%. For example, farmers of Village 8, Klong Koh Room, District Pichai, Uttaradit Province mentioned that as Prae Rice Seed Center has provided knowledge, advice on how to reduce use of chemicals, how to do good rice farming then bring them into practice which resulted with satisfaction, enabling the farmers to decrease the cost of production and increase their income. Knowledge received has been extended to 30 farmers in the same community. Consequently, rice farming in 2013 revealed that farmers in the community of Village 8, Sub-District Khoroom, District Pichai, Uttaradit would be able to increase rice production and income. With regards to rice insects’ pest, farmers have followed the advice that made the use of insects’ pest decrease and rice production was less damaging. Also, advice on reduction of chemical fertilizers use has reduced expenses in connection with rice production. Farmers were not exposed to chemicals, which made them healthier. Reduction of chemical fertilizers affected the environment and made water resources cleaner. Spreading of chemicals into the community has decreased. Farmers realized and understood how to do rice farming by reducing risks that affect environment, themselves, and consumers. This is a great leap in the food safety system.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The delivery of services to make Smart Farmers has been operating for three years. The initiative can be sustainable and utilized in many areas. Initially, The Rice Department established 50 RFSC in 33 provinces. The model offered the best practice for other RFSCs to implement and study by following the handbook practice. Secondly, the implementation created cooperation among farmers in the same area, which in return established strength in the community. The outcomes can be seen in Village 3, Central District, Villages 2 and 8 of Khoroom District and Village 4, Rai-oy Sub-District, Pichai District of Uttaradit Province. Thirdly, through learning, farmers’ attitudes in rice production and reduction of chemical fertilizers use have changed. Their environment has improved. Their products are safer for consumers and lastly, farmers have a better life and better health. With regards to social community reaction, RFSC has been accepted by many districts/communities in Uttaradit Province. Farmers respected knowledge provided by official workers of RFSC. RFSC contributed to the community by transferring knowledge to the farmers and at the same time, empowered the community to extend their knowledge to other communities. For the participation of local sages in transferring their local wisdom to farmers, RFSC worked closely with the farmers and empowered the farmers to synthesize suitable rice producing knowledge in order to offer to their community or to further develop a sustainable innovation with cost effectiveness and worthiness in terms of labor, investment, and benefits.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Lessons learned were changing of procedures and processes of services by focusing on the farmers’ requirements and studying the needs of the local areas as well as cooperating with the community to respond to their needs. The RFSC realized that this initiative enabled farmers to transfer and adapt their knowledge to be used in their community and genuinely served their requirements. The government has adapted its role in providing services to the farmers by approaching closely into their areas. Problems and requirements of farmers have been studied in order to provide suitable service strategies so that the benefits of this initiative are sustainable. Poverty amongst farmers is a worldwide problem. Providing knowledge and supporting necessary resources are not sustainable ways to alleviate farmers’ poverty. Farmers have to adapt their learning and obtain the experiences of local sages then synthesize with their rice production knowledge to make it suitable and responsive to their requirements. From a RFSC survey, there are many local sages who would be able to transfer their local wisdom. RFSC then compiled the local wisdom and transferred them to farmers in combination with new technology. Farmers would be able to select appropriate rice production that is useful to them. It is the ultimate goal that farmers’ accept innovation and realize the importance of knowledge transfer and change their attitude towards rice production. All of this has been achieved in a relatively short space of time. In the past, there are many government authorities such as Department of Agriculture Extension, Department of Local Administrative, financial resources (banks) that conducted a study tour of the Center in order to study and observe the operation of the center. Key factors that lead to the success of the operation are the dedication of officials in changing service patterns, learning and directly approaching farmers to obtain their requirements, collaborating with the community and local administrative bodies such as sub-district administrative organizations and other government groups within the province which saved time in providing services, and cut down expenditure by integrating services with other agencies, especially when other agencies in the same province have to provide services to farmers in the same area and localities. Farmers will have improved convenience, have quicker services, less spending time and money travelling and truly serve the requirements of the farmers.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Rice Department, Thailand
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Wichan Tiangtham
Title:   Director Bureau of Rice Seeds, Rice Department  
Telephone/ Fax:   +(66)2-561-4229
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   50 Pahonyodhin Rd.
Postal Code:   10900
City:   Chatuchak District
State/Province:   Bangkok

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