Tomato farmers gain from Doi Kham, T-Holding partnership

business March 28, 2012 00:00

By Watchiranont Thongtep
The Na

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Hoping to support sustainable living standards in communities according to the initiatives of His Majesty the King, Doi Kham Food Products Co is continuing to promote engagement between the private sector and farmers.



 

Doi Kham has begun a partnership with T-Holding, a wholly owned subsidiary of Thai Union Frozen Products, which will receive 60 per cent of the concentrated tomato paste produced by Doi Kham’s Third Royal Factory in Tao Ngoi, Sakon Nakhon province, for TUF’s sardine and mackerel products.
The partnership was followed by a Bt400-million investment in machinery imported from Italy at the Third Royal Factory, which has production capacity of 3,000 tonnes of tomato paste a year. 
The factory was designed on the initiative of His Majesty the King in terms of environmental conservation to promote the concept of “Greentitude”. 
Director Pipatpong Israsena said the factory expected to bring in 6,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes from farmers this year to produce 800 tonnes of paste. 
“Because parts of the factory were not completed, last year we received 3,000 tonnes of raw tomatoes from farmers,” Pipatpong said. 
He believes that at least 800 farmers in Sakon Nakhon will benefit from this partnership. 
Doi Kham uses contract farming to encourage tomato growing in several provinces in the Northeast. The company offers qualified farmers a guaranteed purchasing price during the harvest season, which runs from October to March. This protects them from unfair bargaining by middlemen.
Underlining this point, Prab Onjongkrai, 58, a tomato farmer in Sakon Nakhon said: “We can afford smiles and support our two children with a proper education after getting a production contract with Doi Kham and receiving its agricultural-technology support.”
His wife Pitaya, 44, added: “We supply 90 per cent of our annual tomato harvest to Doi Kham, while we trade the rest with local go-betweens.” 
Though tomato growers have to acquire seeds from Doi Kham, they are given technical training in how to improve quality and productivity. One example is the use of tomato racks to provide a vertical support structure for plants while they grow. Using this method, gardeners can produce bigger tomatoes and can protect them from ground humidity, which could cause rot.
Though building tomato racks slightly raises production costs, Pitaya said that after using this method, her family witnessed lucrative productivity at Bt50,000 per rai (Bt312,500 per hectare), double that achieved with conventional growing methods.
Doi Kham also trains farmers how to use organic fertilisers and pesticides to guarantee customers of the safety of the company’s products. Farmers are assessed annually to ensure the quality and quantity of tomatoes to be purchased the following year.
Wichai Iamsangchan, managing director of T-Holding, said being a partner with Doi Kham not only would allow the company to help improve living standards of tomato farmers, especially in the Northeast, but would offer the perfect combination of high quality and safety for premium sardine and mackerel products. 
Wichai added that his company would be delighted to further cooperation with Doi Kham in the near future, particularly in research and development. 

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