“We used to be like everyone in this neighbourhood when it came to farming. We relied on chemical fertiliser. As years went by, the chemical price kept rising while the produce price was going downward, we couldn’t help but face loss. So, we thought about ways to tackle this,” Thang and Toom, a farmer couples in Chian Yai district, Nakhon Si Thammarat province, revealed their history while walking us through their orchard.
Without hearing them further about what their decision was, the solution to the problem is right before our eyes. Right there is the compost production area; among other tools and equipment, standing there is an oven to make wood vinegar. Yet, we still can hear Thang’s voice in the distance, reaffirming the answer, “When I was a soldier I had a chance to attend a vocational guidance course offered before the discharge. There was an array of mechanical skills to learn. But I chose fertiliser production, thinking I’d be able to apply it in the future.”
With Thang’s know-how adopted from the training and Toom’s knowledge learnt through the back door, the couple set out making compost. “Because back then we had little knowledge and experience, we didn’t succeed. But when WVTF asked what support parents of sponsored children needed, we told them ours was compost production,” Toom said.
Thang and Toom, along with other parents of sponsored children, had opportunity to join a study trip to visit Chian Yai Area Development Programme, World Vision Foundation of Thailand to learn how to produce compost. After the trip, an occupation group was set up.
group was set up. “It was a failure because, again, the group didn’t have any experience. Fortunately, WVFT helped bridge the gap. Due to our lack of knowledge, we’ve been brought to attend a training session on supply planning and group management. We’ve visited other groups to learn from their actual operations. Once we saw what others could achieve, we’ve been inspired that we’d be able to do so,” said Toom.
The group has been reestablished, with 12 members, under the name of “Chemical-Free Vegetable Growing Group”.
“The 12 members have collaboratively produced compost. At first, it was made to order for the members’ need as we wanted to run the trial phase and create customer testimonials. No member got paid for their labour, but the compost was not free. They needed to pay for it,” Toom said, slightly chuckling.
Finally the harvest season came. Everyone’s exhaust was completely gone because the produce from the use of compost could be sold at the higher price. Other farmers in the neighbourhood have become interested in buying the group’s compost. As such, the group has increased its compost production for sale; the compost for general purposes is sold at 80 baht a kilogramme and the compost for promoting sprouting is 100 baht a kilogramme. Not only provides working capital for Chemical-free Vegetable Growing Group, the compost also supports the members to have extra income from their labour in making the compost.
“The wage rate is not fixed. We’ll calculate how much we make from a sale batch. After deduction of production cost and 20% contribution allocated to the group, the remaining amount is considered the wage paid to the members,” Toom elaborated.
In addition, the group provides savings and loan services to the members. The interest rate for the loan for occupational purposes is as low as 0.5 %. As a result, the number of members has largely risen, thanks to the privileges that come with quality fertiliser. “Now we have 94 members,” Toom said, smiling with pride.