River Kwai International Food Industry, the country’s leading sweet corn and vegetable exporter, has expanded its organic farming into Laos as part of its ambitious plan to become the regional supplier of organic agricultural products in the region.
“This is just the first step of our group to become the regional supplier of organic fruits and vegetables,” said Soonthorn Sritawee, chief operating officer of River Kwai International. “We are ready to expand more in other neighbouring countries to help produce steady supplies to our group.”
The group will invest at least 20 million baht to support organic farming on 800 rai in Paksong, about 50 kilometres east of Pakse and 100 kilometres from the Thai border at Chong Mek in Ubon Ratchathani, said Mr Soonthorn.
The investment, he said, was also part of the group’s one-billion-baht investment plan in a health resort and spa of the group in Laos. Output is expected to start next year.
Mr Soonthorn said the group chose Paksong mainly for the area’s fertile soil and favourable conditions for the crop mainly for temperate fruits and vegetables and coffee.
River Kwai is expected to take about 70 percent in the venture, with the remaining 30 percent to be held by local unnamed investors. In Thailand, the company has developed organic farming for more than 10 years. Its organic farms currently cover more than 600 rai of its own farms in several provinces including Kanchanaburi, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. The company has also entered contract farming with farmers covering about 800 rai. An additional 1,000 rai of farm areas are in the process of certification.
The Agriculture Ministry has recently announced to increase organic farm acreage by at least 40 percent to 200,000 rai over the next two years to tap into higher demand in world markets.
Organic plantations currently cover 140,963 rai, of which 80 percent are for rice, vegetables, fruit, and herbs.