UK, Spain, Germany and Thailand join up to adopt a climate-smart rice cultivation system, reducing climate change impacts and raising Thai farmer’s income

Mars Food, Herba Bangkok S.L (Ebro Foods S.A), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Thai Rice Department recently launched an innovative joint project to improve the economic viability of 1,200 Thai rice farmers and develop high-quality and sustainable Hom Mali rice with a climate-smart system to mitigate climate change in Roi Et province.

The “Sustainable Hom Mali Rice” project will be implemented for 2.5 years (2018-2020). The main implementing partners are Mars Food, Herba Bangkok S.L (Ebro Foods S.A), GIZ and the Thai Rice Department. The project aims to support 1,200 Thai rice growers from each of the 12 community rice centres in Roi Et province in the production of 3,500 metric tons of Hom Mali rice.

Ms. Sineenart Chuichulcherm, Global Commercial Director of Mars Food said: “This initiative is part of Mars Food’s journey to source rice from farmers working towards the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standard. In 2016, Mars Food reached an important milestone and now all basmati rice is sourced from farmers working towards the SRP standard – representing 10 percent of our overall rice volume. From now on, Mars Food will be working with Herba Bangkok S.L (Ebro Foods S.A), the Thai Rice Department and GIZ to further the standards outlined by the SRP on Hom Mali rice. We guarantee that we can achieve a more sustainable Hom Mali rice crop in Thailand that benefits all stakeholders – farmers, rice producers, and the environment.”

Dr. Matthias Bickel, GIZ Thailand’s Director of Agriculture and Food Cluster said: “In collaboration with the Thai Rice Department, Mars Food, Herba Bangkok S.L (Ebro Foods S.A) and Hom Mali rice farmers in Thailand, the project will implement numerous interventions such as educating farmers on SRP standards and agronomic technologies, giving access to high-quality seeds, enhancing the skills of farmer groups, improving gender equity, adoption of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-enabled traceability for food safety and quality considerations, and stimulating domestic and international off-takers to procure sustainable rice. The partnership also aims to provide access to finance mechanisms and improve the financial literacy of agriculture cooperatives, with a focus on gender inclusion to unlock opportunities for women.”

Mr. Ignacio Yuste Sanchez, Herba Bangkok’s (Ebro Foods) Regional Managing Director said: “For Ebro Foods, this project forms part of our commitment to sustainability in the sector, since Thailand plays a major role in the Group’s rice supply chain. We firmly believe that the best way to achieve sustainability in the sector is through alliances, and we have such strong partners with Mars Food, GIZ, Thai Rice Department, millers and farmers all banding together. Currently a lot of discussions are going on about the sustainability of the rice sectors with focus on the livelihood of farmers, chemical usage, inclusiveness, food security and the overall condition and wellbeing of farmers. These issues are not exclusive to smallholders but focusing on them can drive industry change.”

Mr.Anan Suwannarat, General Director of the Thai Rice Department said: “Hom Mali rice has been declared the world’s best rice and Thailand is one of the world’s leading rice exporters, yet rice farmers are among the lowest earners in the country’s agriculture sector. Many Thai rice farmers face rising production costs and fluctuating prices. Under this project, we will join forces in developing a sustainable quality of rice. The Rice Department is responsible for planning and implementation of the national rice policy and strategy through research and development of rice seed, farming practices, post-harvest and processing, and rice standards.

By so doing, we ensure that our implementation can help farmers produce good quality rice and reduce the cost of production while increasing rice yield as well as quality rice according to global requirement. It is expected that the project will help the farmers to earn additional income in each community.”

About Mars Food
Mars Food is a fast-growing dinnertime food business, making tastier, healthier, easier meals that bring the world to the dinner table. A segment of Mars, Incorporated, Mars Food is headquartered in London with approximately 2,000 Associates and 11 manufacturing sites globally. Mars Food’s 13 brands are available in more than 30 countries, and include some of the world’s best-known names in food, including UNCLE BEN’S®, DOLMIO®, SEEDS OF CHANGE®, MASTERFOODS®, TASTY BITE ®, MIRACOLI®, SUZI WAN®, EBLY®, ROYCO®, KAN TONG®, ABU SIOUF®, PAMESELLO®, AND RARIS®. Its mission of Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow. – drives the business to become a leader in health & wellbeing and sustainability.

About Ebro Foods/ Herba Bangkok
Ebro Foods (www.ebrofoods.es) is the leading Group in the Spanish Food sector in terms of turnover, profit, market capitalisation and internacional presence. Ebro is world leader in the rice sector and second group in the international pasta sector (fresh and dry), with more than 80 leading brands worldwide and 27 subsidiaries across the globe. One the subsidiaries has been established in Thailand, Herba Bangkok, and will be representing the Group in the project. The Ebro Group upholds and is guided by the values of: leadership, transparency, service vocation, honesty, integrity, respect and commitment to their stakeholders and the environment. With focus on establishing a sustainable supply chain, while improving the conditions and livelihoods of farmers.

About GIZ
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is owned by the German government to provide services in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. GIZ works on behalf of other public and private sector clients both in Germany and overseas. These include the governments of other countries, European Union Institutions, the United Nations, World Bank and other donor organisations. The registered offices of GIZ are in Bonn and Eschborn. In 2016 our business volume was around EUR 2.4 billion. Of our 19,506 employees in some 120 countries, almost 70 per cent are national personnel working in the field. For more information, please visit www.giz.de

About Thai Rice Department
The Rice Department is the organisation under the Ministry of Agricultural and Cooperatives in Thailand. The Rice Department is responsible for planning and implementation of the national rice policy and strategy through research and development of rice seed, farming practices, post-harvest and processing, and rice standards. We enhance rice productivity and provide excellent services for farmers. Our main tasks also cover production technologies tranfer for improving productivity, rice seed production and distribution, inspection and certification, and development of value added strategy. 28 Rice Research Centers and 23 Rice Seed Centers are located in 33 provinces in Thailand. For more information, please visit www.ricethailand.go.th

For more information, please contact
Mr. Atthawit Watcharapongchai
Project Manager
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Contact number: +66 (02) 89 401 6464
Email: atthawit.watcharapongchai@giz.de