IT WAS last decade that Sa-Aad Chungsamarn, head of Sanamchan Community Enterprise, decided to support roselle farmers in Nakhon Pathom suffering from a price drop due to the crop’s oversupply.
The move to produce added value to the crop by using a machine to dry roselle as well as other fruits and vegetables now generates a sustainable income of Bt500,000 a month on average for 50 farmers in the province.
“I saw more roselle in the province until its price dropped, causing some of it to be wasted,” Sa-Aad said.
“As a result I discussed with five farming families producing roselle as a dried fruit for sale that would generate higher income than its sale as a fresh fruit.”
Last decade, Sa-Aad, 56, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Kasetsart University, developed a laboratory-scale machine that dried roselle using a vacuum system. He proposed the scheme to Nakhon Pathom on a commercial-scale basis, and in 2003 he received Bt4 million to develop the machine.
After the vacuum technology proved a success in 2003, Sa-Aad and the other members of the Sanamchan Community Enterprise, which had only five farmers on board that year, started producing dried roselle fruit for sale. This generated income of Bt100,000 in the first month.
The scheme’s success promoted most roselle farmers in the province to join the community enterprise, and it now has 50 members.
With demand for roselle strong domestically and overseas, the community enterprise established Pri Tip Brand Co, with registered capital of Bt1 million, to distribute its products under the brands Pri Tip and Is Loei both domestically and overseas in 2004.
Currently, the company exports to Singapore and China.
The enterprise also sells other fruits and vegetables and it is generating an average income of Bt500,000 a month this year.
“China is a [high] potential market for our products where there is a strong demand for dried fruit,” Sa-|Aad said.
“We have now expanded our investment about Bt4 million to double our production capacity to boost total revenue to Bt1 million a month in next year.’’
Sa-Aad said that to add value| to agriculture products, they |had to be produced to match market demand, which also produced sustainable growth in the long term.
The endeavour’s members |now have enough money to support their families because they have |sustainable income, he added.