Rice, like all commodities grown in the developing world, lends itself to control by large trading companies. These companies are naturally profit focussed, though unfortunately they often fall into the trap of becoming exploitative of the small farmers that rely on them to sell their product.
Fairtrade is the mechanism by which we, as educated consumers, can make a difference to this status quo.
Thai Gold rice is grown, milled and packaged by a farmers collective in the North East of Thailand. The farmers receive a guaranteed, premium price for their product which ensures that they are able to make a fair return for their efforts. In addition the profits of the collective are used for the benefit of the farmers communities.
The Thai Food Company has built a direct relationship with the co-operative in order to be able to bring the best rice in the world to the tables of the west, while ensuring that there is a positive benefit to the producers and their families.
Our partner in the North East of Thailand is called the Surin Rice Fund Co-operative, and it is in turn a member of the Green Net Co-operative. The Surin Rice Fund constitutes some 600 small rice farmers in the Districts of Prasat, Muang, Sikhaw, Khawaw, Khatum and Tanwa. Of these producers over three hundred have been trained and converted to the operation of organically certified rice. Those that have converted receive a further premium for the production of organic rice. Find more information on Fairtrade at www.fairtrade.net