Singha plans agro-tourist site in Chiang Rai
Singha Corporation will spend over Bt200 million this year in turning its 8,000-rai Boon Rawd Farm in Chiang Rai, which boasts extensive barley, tea and fruit plantations, into a tourist attraction and estate with 20 poolside villas worth Bt100 million.At the end of last year the farm's name was changed to Singha Park to highlight the area as a new agro-tourism destination with a farm tour that is seeing 300-400 visitors a day in the trial stage. Attendance is expected to rise to about 1,000 by the next high season from November-February.
The 120-seat Phupirom restaurant will move into a nearby location within the farm and be expanded to 300 seats, while the old restaurant area will undergo a major facelift as a teahouse.
About a 30-minute drive from downtown Chiang Rai on Den Ha-Dong Mada Road, Singha Park is hard to miss thanks to the giant lion sculpture that guards its entrance. Established in 1983, the park grounds cover four districts of Chiang Rai and are home to a 2,600-rai rubber tree plantation, 600-rai tea plantation, 50-rai jujube orchard and 30-rai barley field. There are also gardens for strawberries, star fruit, mushrooms and salad vegetables.
Ittikorn Banjobdee, manager of the managing director's office, said last week that Singha tried to raise barley as a fermentable ingredient for its beer, but due to the short winter and unpredictable weather, the quality and quantity weren't satisfactory.
"What we produce now is used for malted drinks and health foods. The highest output of the farm today is oolong tea. Set up around 2003, our tea factory is the largest in Southeast Asia and can make about 15 tonnes of Chinese oolong Jin Xuan (oolong 12) tea a month and it all goes to Taiwan and China," he said.
The company is starting to penetrate the Middle East and European markets for its oolong tea.
"We are also planning to set up an agricultural educational centre at our farm to give visitors enriched knowledge about tea," he said
The company was promoting the agricultural industry at its park by commercialising fresh and processed fruits produced by the farm, such as jujubes, star fruits, mulberries and strawberries.
Last week the first 200-kilogram lot of fresh jujubes was shipped to Villa Supermarket for sale its Bangkok branches. The farm can produce about 25 tonnes of fresh jujube fruit per week.
"We have processed our fresh fruits into juices and jams and they are now selling at our farm under the Boon Rawd Farm brand. The processed products will be sold in other retail outlets in Chiang Rai and beyond," he said.
Singha Park was developed from the concept of Santi Bhirombhakdi, president of Singha Corporation, to make agriculture, nature and the community all co-exist. Santi also wants to make the farm a tourist magnet in Chiang Rai that everybody can access.
"We expect Singha Farm to increase its revenue of about Bt100 million last year up to Bt500 million-Bt600 million within three years, of which 60 per cent will come from tourism and 40 per cent from the agricultural business," he said.
Singha Farm employs about 500 workers, mostly locals from the province.