NINETY-SEVEN farmers in Baan Bang Plong, Prachin Buri province, have successfully collaborated to make personal accessories such as shoes, bags and mats out of reeds, generating returns of up to Bt10,000 a month for each family.
“This has increased their incomes from an average of Bt300,000 a year per family from rice cultivation to an average of Bt420,000 a year from both rice and reed products. This has improved their quality of life,” Somchai Yapabit, 30, marketing manager of Baan Bang Plong Reed Process Community Enterprise, said in an interview with The Nation.
He said the community enterprise was established in 1994 by his aunt, Chum Yapabit, now 63, who saw the opportunity to generate extra income by making personal accessories out of reeds.
He said Chum started out by making reed mats and selling them for around Bt50 per kilogram. Then she decided to train others in her community to process dried reeds for the manufacture of other products such as shoes and women’s bags.
Somchai said 5 kilograms of dried reed could produce 120 pairs of shoes that sold for an average of Bt65 per pair, thus generating income of Bt7,800. By comparison, selling the same amount of dried reed as a raw material for Bt50 per kilogram would generate only Bt250.
Currently, the community enterprise sells its reed products in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai, as well as exporting them to Japan and Laos.
The enterprise plans to boost its production capacity by 40 per cent this year to double its annual sales to Bt2 million by borrowing Bt1 million from the SME Development Bank. The loan guaranteed by the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation will be used to stock raw material as well as to increase production.