ORFSC - Organic Rice Fund Surin Agriculture
The cooperative's dedication to environmental stewardship has contributed to Surin, Thailand being named the country’s first official organic province. Located near the Cambodian border, rice fields stretch to the horizon, providing both a source of livelihood for a majority of the population in the region as well as a point of religious gathering. Becoming Fair Trade Certified by Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) in 2003 has supplied organic farmers with a guaranteed market and reduced migration to cities by farmers in search of other employment opportunities.
Producing organically is safe both for the producer and the consumer, and it conserves the environment in every way. We can find that natural balance for our fields again. If we grow organically, we become sustainable. ”
Thong Ma, Rice Farmer
Education and Environmental Stewardship
The cooperative helps fund local schools, temples and villager-led community organizations and makes annual donations for school supplies and infrastructure improvements. A program called Local Wisdom Education promotes environmental stewardship among village children by teaching sustainable agricultural techniques, incorporating children into the conservation of the forests, and overseeing an organic garden in which children grow food to sell at the local organic farmers' market.
Fair Trade premiums help the organization fund technical training programs in organic agriculture techniques and standards. Through the community forest conservation program, for example, villagers learn how to best protect the forest from loggers and ensure its use is for a sustainable community purpose.
Productive Capacity Investments
The cooperative purchased its own rice mill and trains local villagers in the sorting and packaging process.