Boosting farmers' knowledge ahead of AEC

business February 02, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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With Asean market liberalisation now just a year away, a learning centre has been opened that will provide poultry farmers with knowledge about advanced technology and integrated farm management practices required to ensure high-quality production and foo

Established by Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF), the Sikhiu Learning Centre in Nakhon Ratchasima province integrates knowledge and technology related to the poultry industry, with a particular focus on duck and chicken. 
It will serve as a training centre not only for the 1,152 farmers under CPF’s contract-farming programme for poultry, but also for the company’s employees so that the number of experts can be increased.
Upcoming seamless trade under the Asean Economic Community (AEC), which comes into effect next year, has led the company to hasten the opening of the learning centre to ensure there are knowledgeable and skilled farmers, as well as CPF staff, so that increased emphasis is placed on producing safe food throughout the listed company’s contract farms.
Farmers can apply for any of the available training courses, during which they will learn about  advanced technology from the company’s trading partners such as Cobb, a poultry research business engaged in the development, production and sale of broiler breeding stock, and also from CPF’s own experts and veterinarians. 
The learning centre will instil in farmers the need to strictly follow the requirements of a quality supply chain by applying modern knowledge and advanced technology in their farms.
Adirek Sripratak, president and chief executive officer of CPF, said the centre would focus mostly on the company’s staff and farmers under its contract-farming scheme in order to ensure sustainable growth. 
In addition, the company will spell out the need to prepare to enter the era of full regional trade liberalisation under the AEC next year.
Farmers, and particularly those with small operations, form a crucial part of the company’s supply chain, so they need to meet the same global production standards as CPF itself achieves, he added. 
CPF invested about Bt23 million to set up the learning centre on a 999-rai (160 hectare) plot in Sikhio district, in Nakhon Ratchasima province. 
The training courses will focus on management in human resources, quality, food safety, bio-security and the environment, said the company chief.
Prajit Udnoon, CPF executive vice president for Poultry Business, said the company had to open the learning centre to cope with rapid change in technology in both the farming and business sides of the entire operation, and particularly in regard to duck and chicken. 
For instance, for some 40 years, mature chicken for commercial sale had to weigh at least 2 kilograms and be reared for 120 days before slaughter. 
With advanced technology, parent-stock development and developed feed-meal formulas have gradually shortened the feeding period to 90, 75, 60 and 50 days, and now to just 38 days, while each bird’s minimum weight has risen over time to 2.4kg, he said.
Prajit added that the company’s staff and farmers would gain direct experience from both Thai and foreign experts during their training.