Thailand Seed Industry News 2020

This page features a compilation and selection of Thai seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in the Kingdom of Thailand.

The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.

This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.

May 2020

BIOTEC rapid hybrid seed purity test praised for being quick and accurate

Popular Thai business news website, Mgr Online has praised the work of Dr. Wirulda Pootakham, researcher at the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC), and specifically her award-winning HybridSure DNA-based purity test. The rapid test can deliver accurate hybrid purity results within a day, compared to conventional “grow-out trial” assay tests, which may require six to 12 months to obtain results, which may not even be accurate. See here for further description in English

East-West Thailand donates seeds, growing extension as part of Covid-19 outreach 

East-West Seed Thailand has signed two different Memorandum Of Understandings — in April and May — committing tens of thousands of seed packs and community uplifting as part of its latest community outreach efforts to improve the livelihoods of local farmers. In April, EWS Thailand signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Community Development Department, Thailand, to support a project to distribute 45,600 seed pouches of common Thai kitchen vegetable crops nationwide. The project aims to promote kitchen gardening and encourage people to consume healthy food during a time when buying food has become a challenge in some areas due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation (See story below for more details about the Thai government project.

Moreover, in May, EWS Thailand signed another MoU, this time  with the Department of Agricultural Extension (DOAE) to support several projects through the distribution of free quality seeds as well as offer educational and agricultural extension initiatives. As part of this MoU, the company donated some 50,000 seed pouches which will complement three key projects:.

  1. ‘Refrigerator Beside our Home’ to support those in the general public who are interested in planting edible vegetables at home. In less than two hours after opening registration, 10,000 people registered to receive free seeds via www.doae.go.th 
  2. ‘Young Smart Farmer’ to support knowledge sharing and training a new generation of farmers with effective farming techniques
  3. ‘Vegetable School’ to support schools in planting edible vegetables and sharing knowledge with students

This story will be covered in Asian Seed Magazine. Also, find more news from East West Seed here.

Chia Tai gifts half-a-million seed packets for Covid-19 relief

Chia Tai has joined hands with the Community Development Department to distribute 500,000 vegetable seed packets to create food security and ease COVID-19 impacts. The seeds were donated as part of a 90-day action plan titled “Planting Vegetable Gardens for Food Security”. Under the project, which originated by the Community Development Department, Ministry of Interior, the vegetable seeds will be distributed to people in 76 provinces across the country, with the aim of helping people gain access to quality fresh homegrown vegetables, create food security and help ease the impact from COVID-19.

Commenting on the project, Community Development Department Director-General Mr. Suthipong Jullacharoen said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a wide impact on the Thai economy, with many companies having to reduce staff numbers or even close their businesses, resulting in a significant increase of unemployment and people having to be more prudent with their spending. Moreover, on the background of this uncertain time, people also may feel insecure regarding possible food shortages. Aligned to our vision to increase stability of local economy and to build self-reliance for Thai people, we believe that [the late] King Rama 9’s sufficiency economy philosophy can be the resolution to these problems, and will help the country pull through this crisis, especially on creating food security, an urgent issue that needs immediate action.”

Therefore, the Community Development Department, Ministry of Interior, has come

up with the 90-day action plan called “Planting Vegetable Gardens for Food Security.” The objective is to enable Thais to have sufficient sources of food at home and to be able to reduce their expenses during economic slowdown. The plan also aims to help prepare Thais to be self-reliant in time of crisis. 

To be a part of this effort, Chia Tai has supported with 500,000 packets of four quality vegetable seeds, specifically Chinese kale, Chinese convolvulus, Basil and Bird Chili, which will be given to people in 76 provinces across the country. Not only does this project help

Thai people have access to safe and quality vegetables to share with their family and reduce their expenses, but it also helps create food security for the country.

More details about Chiatai’s efforts will be featured in the upcoming issue of Asian Seed Magazine. Meanwhile, news in Thai is featured here on their website.

Boy’s crop loss Facebook Live post draws seed aide from Interior Ministry

When a 12-year-old boy in the Muang district of Songkhla turned to social media to voice his complaints of cows eating his water convulous crops, he soon became the talk of town, prompting attention and visit from the Interior Ministry. It turned out the boy had been growing the vegetables to sell and help his family during hard economic times brought on by covid-19 restrictions. In the end, the officer from the Interior Ministry donated the boy a whole new bag of water convolvulus seeds and gave hima 1,000 baht advance for his crop, instructing the boy to distribute the crops to villagers. Thai Post reports.

HRH Princess Donates Veg Seeds to Locals

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has donated several dozen Royal Project vegetable seed kits to families living near the Mengrai Fort in Chiang Rai province of Northern Thailand. The news, covered here in Thai language, says the seeds were donated in response to challenges posed by the Covid-19 situation. 

April 2020

Grocery delivery trucks get new life during lockdown

Converted pickup trucks converted into mobile fresh markets are a common site around Thai neighborhoods, and even more so since the country was put under lockdown. Bangkok Post reports that these grocery delivery trucks have been more profitable than before now that many people are hesitant to go to hypermarkets and convenience stores. 

Ensuring sufficient domestic food supply 

Thailand’s government has taken a number of initiatives to ensure food security during the month of April and beyond, reports Food Navigator Asia. Among them include shoring up production and distribution mechanisms, which has increasingly emphasized online channels and efficient home-delivery service. According to figures citing the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand produces about 28.4 million tons of paddy, with domestic consumption at about 13.3 million tons, and seed production at 1.37 million tons; Likewise, the kingdome only consumes about 17% of its annual fish and seafood harvested, with sufficient production of other types of food. Nonetheless, there has been some ‘panic buying’ and food hoarding reported.  

Thailand Commerce Minister withdraws proposal to join CPTPP

Jurin Laksanawisit, Thailand Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister has reportedly withdrawn a proposal to the cabinet for Thailand to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Bangkok Post reported on April 28. The news follows mounting opposition from civil groups, and from Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, the article notes. Should Thailand join the 11-nation trade bloc, the Kingdom would be obliged to adopt the UPOV 1991 convention. 

District officials distribute free vegetable seeds in Angthong 

In response to concerns of limited market supply and widespread fear among villagers to go to markets, local government officials in Visetchaicharn district of Angthong Province distributed over 1,000 packets of vegetable seeds of leading Thai companies, Chia Tai and East-West Seed. The seeds included many types of crops, including leafy vegetables, kale, basil, chili peppers and cucumbers. Thai language news here

Private companies donate 10,500 seed packets in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai News reports on an initiative of Mae Jo United club, along with Bor O. K. Maled Pun and Food Seeds company donating 10,500 packets of vegetable seeds, valued at THB105,000, to the Nong Harn sub-district municipality in Sun Sai district in Chiang Mai as part of covid-19 relief efforts.

March 2020

Thai Seed Trade Association holds GAM: Gallery

Ministry of Ag eyes food exports, farm jobs & loans

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is drafting 6 and 12 month export plans for food products, as a minister said  the country is expected to fill large orders, while maintaining sufficient domestic stocks, reports the National News Bureau of Thailand.

The article also highlights that the ministry has made available 41,000 jobs for the Irrigation Department, and will continue to support the agriculture sector by dispersing loans through the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, available until 30th November this year. 

Thailand’s Department of Agriculture on March 23 published a link in Thai language providing links to ts services the analysis, inspection, quality certification for seeds and other agricultural inputs. Thai link here or see English language services contact information here.

Thai rice exports get boost

The COVID-19 scare has boosted Thai rice exports, reports Xinhua via Khao Sod English, citing Chookiat Ophaswongse, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association wha said : “The COVID-19 situation has led to many countries stocking up on food supplies, boosting orders for Thai rice, as reported by Xinhua, adding that rice importers worldwide want Thai rice shippers to deliver full orders  immediately

Enough food domestically

the Thaiger reports on March 26, citing the Ministry of Agriculture Economics that “… production of key agricultural products like rice, fishery products, meat products, palm oil, cassava, coconut and sugarcane will not be affected …” 

Assistant agricultural minister quarantine, tests negative 

Thammanat Prompao told reporters he would spend 14 days in self-quarantine after he came in contact with a man who tested positive for the novel coronavirus strain, reports Khao Sod English on March 16, and then on March 17 he announced he tested negative of Covid-19 reports The Nation Thailand. 

Thailand preparing to join CPTPP: 

The Kingdom is advancing towards joining the 11 nation bloc of 500 million people, reports Bangkok Post. According to another report from Bangkok Post, the IP chapter of CPTPP will oblige Thailand to join UPOV 1991, which is concerned with seeds and PVP.

Inside Maejo MJ greenhouses, bugs, overtime and 30$ seeds 

 

February 2020

THASTA engages members ahead of TIST 2020

The Thai Seed Trade Association (THASTA) is rallying its members across Thailand ahead of the Thailand International Seed Trade (TIST) 2020 expo, which is planned 19 to 21 August later this year at Central World in Bangkok. This will be the second year THASTA has organized TIST. Stand by for more updates on the expo. Meanwhile, THASTA announced that its 2020 General Annual Meeting is schedule 6 March 2020 in Bangkok. For more details, and to register (THASTA members and invitees only), email admin@thastha.com

East-West Seed molecular plant pathology head an inspiration for women

To mark the 5th International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February, East-West Seed published an interview with one of its own lady scientists: Dr. Hatthaya Arunothayanan is East-West Seed’s Molecular Genetics Laboratory Manager and heads the company’s Molecular Plant Pathology program. In the brief interview, Dr. Hattaya explains exactly why gender is a non-issue in the world of science and research. Read it here.  In related news, the official theme for the day was on “Driving Investment in Equality in Science, Technology and Innovation in the Digitalization Era for Inclusive Green Growth with special focus on Agriculture, Technology and Digital Economy”.

Former Head of UN Drug Board to Lead Thai Cannabis Corporation

Dr. Viroj Sumyai on February 14 was named President of the Thai Cannabis Corporation (TCC). Dr. Sumyai, a Thai citizen, recently completed his second term as elected President of the United Nations (UN) International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). Prior to joining the INCB, Dr. Sumyai was Assistant Secretary-General of Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thailand legalized medical cannabis last year.

Lack of varieties; drought and stiff competition cited for Thailand slumping rice targets

In an interview featured on the Bangkok Post, the President of the Thai Rice Exporters Association cited a number of key factors for declining targets for Thai rice exports, this year set at about 7.5 million tonnes, and expected to rake in about $4.2 billion. If realized, this would be the lowest figure since 2013. Among the reasons slumping targets include stiff competition, higher production costs, widespread drought, volatile exchange rates, and the lack of varietal development in the past three decades. “Thailand has shipped the same rice varieties for 30 years and lacks rice variety development to deal with changing market demands and consumer behaviour,” said Charoen Laothamatas, The news was also covered by Khao Sod English, who quoted the director-general of the Foreign Trade Department as saying: “Thailand lacks diversity in rice varieties to compete in the world market … and so the Thai government has now set up a panel that includes representatives from the Rice Department, the Thai Rice Exporters Association, the Thai Rice Millers Association and farmers to develop soft-textured rice varieties to target global market.”

Driest conditions in four decades, says industry rep

According to a February 8 report by the Bangkok Post, this year’s drought conditions aflicting many parts of Thailand could be the driest in 40 years. That’s according to a sugar industry rep interviewed who said Thai cane and sugar output is anticipated to drop by 30% this year, which would have impacts on already-stressed global supplies. According to a February 25ุ report issued by Thailand Smart Water Operation Center water reserves nationwide as of February 25 stood at about 41,833 million cubic meters, or 55% of total reservoir capacity of 76,067 million cubic meters, with about 18,074 million cubic meters available for use (before critical mass is reached). The Indian Ocean Southwesterly monsoon typically starts to bring replenishing rains back to Thailand between May and July. In related news, to address the situation, the government is employing a number of measures to provide relief and/or assistance to farmers. Among the measures mentioned in an article by Bangkok Biz News include the distribution of rice and corn seeds to farmers.

DECEMBER 2019 & JANUARY 2020

Thailand calls for 2nd round of comments on proposed seed import conditions

 Thailand has notified the World Trade Organization of revised import conditions proposed for capsicum, eggplant and tomato sowing seeds. Proposed conditions were initially announced last year and revised after an initial round of public and industry consultations. The latest draft conditions, which are concerned with testing and/or treatment of certain quarantine pests, can be downloaded via the following links: 

 

  • Capsicum seed here 
  • Eggplant seeds here
  • Tomato seeds here

APSA is cooperating with the Thai Seed Trade Association (THASTA) to contribute feedback on the proposed conditions. The deadline to submit comments on the latest draft conditions is March 8, 2020. For more information, please email May@apsaseed.org  

Maejo University begins harvesting first of 12,000 Thai medical cannabis plants

77 Kao Ded Thailand reports on the occasion of commencing harvest of Thai medical-grade organic cannabis plants that have been cultivated on an ‘industrial’ scale in recent months. As reported by Asian Seed last year, medical cannabis was legalized in Thailand, andd Mae Jo university in Chiang Mai province had been authorized to lead government cultivation pilot efforts by planting 12,000 cannabis plants in automated and secured greenhouses spanning 3,040 meters. From the 12,000 planted seeds of a Thai variety identified as “Isara 1”, supplied via the Department of Medical Services, 6,000 to 7,500 plants turned out to be female, which were desired for their high yield of resinous flowers, from which medicine will be extracted. The harvesting of mature plants, expected to extend untill the end of February, is expected to yield a total of 10 tonnes of fresh flower, from which one tonne of dried flower will be supplied to partner institutions (Government Pharmeceutical Organization, Khon Kaen University and Mahidol University), hospitals and clinics for both research and distribution to registered patients. 

In related news, the Thai cabinet late in January 2020 gave the green light for Thai citizens to cultivate “hemp” non-psychoactive varieties of cannabis. According to this Thai language report by Daily News, the cabinet will later formally announce the new regulation that effectively removes non-psychoactive Thai hemp varieties from narcotics classification and makes it possible for ordinary citizens to obtain a permit to cultivate “Thai government authorized” hemp varieties on no more than one rai (1,600 square meters) per household.