Thailand Seed Industry News

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.


Q3 News

Lockdowns bring closures, uncertainty & fear to fresh markets: Covid associated fear, hysteria and public health measures have spread to local freshmarkets, many of which have been ordered shut following wide reports of local outbreaks: the Nakhon Ratchasima City Municipality fresh market was ordered shut from 1 August, citing a new cluster linked to it; likewise, freshmarkets were ordered shut in Phuket early in August; while Rayong Governor on August 11 ordered shut the Star Fresh Market in Rayong City shut after it was reported that 11 “aliens” linked to the vegetable section had tested positive. In similar closures, the Lopburi City Municipality Market was shut from August 16; Prachuap Khiri Khan municipal market shut from August 17; Surat Thani City Municipality shut from August 19, and the Nakhon Phanom fresh market was ordered shut from August 22 after one vegetable vendor reportedly have tested positive. Though some rural markets were open for business, the situation proved to be tense at times. In one case a August 26 video report shows market goers arguing with one 69-year-old vendor at a  fresh market in Lukkae Subdistrict, Tha Maka District, Kanchanaburi Province. The lady, who asserted she was not infected, refused demands for her to leave, get tested and quarantine at home after a neighboring vendor had previously tested positive for covid. Local authorities had cordoned off her stall (while she was still there), the viral clip shows. Elsewhere, spray sanitation and mass testing of vendors has been carried out to facilitate the conditional reopening of eerily quiet markets, as was the case in Nakhon Ratchasima, as reported on August 24

Consumers stockpiling essential goods: August 13: Operators of supermarkets and hypermarkets report that consumers have been stocking up on large quantities of essential goods, which has resulted in shortages of some items. Lockdown measures have spurred demand for everything from packed rice, cooking oil and instant noodles to meat, seasoning, fish sauce, tissue paper and drinking water. "Consumers have been stocking up during the daily reports of high infection rates and infection spread to the factories and distribution centres of some retailers," said one retailer. See full report here

CP growing herbs, distributing meal boxes as part of relief: August 17: In a televised interview with the Thai-Chinese agro-food tycoon Dhanin Chearavanont (Senior chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group), it was revealed that the firm is growing green chiretta, an herb reported to have antiviral and intiinflamatory properties, on a 160 hectare area as well as distributing food boxes as part of covid relief efforts. The company aims to produce 30 million tablets of the herb anbd distribute them across the kingdom. Full details here

Chia Tai launches Pakchoy hybrids: July 5: Chia Tai Company Limited, Thailand’s leading innovative agricultural company has released Thailand’s first-ever Flowering Pakchoy F1 hybrids: the Flowering Pakchoy Khaonuan and Flowering Pakchoy Pinmorrakot. These two new varieties require fewer seeds but yield twice as much when compared to conventional varieties. They can be harvested in only 30–35 days after sowing. 

Chia recognizes the issues surrounding the cultivation of Open Pollinated (OP) seeds.  For instance, the seed requirement is high while yields are low, necessitating multiple harvests. Furthermore the plant size is inconsistent. To address these challenges, and thus provide farmers with more alternatives of seed varieties Chia Tai developed these two new F1 hybrids, with details as follows: . 

1. Flowering Pakchoy Khaonuan (F1-Hybrid) has light green and large stalks, nice flower heads, and a steady growth rate. The produce normally weighs 90-100 grams each on average, which is better than other OP ones that weigh only 35-40 grams each. Farmers can also expect high yields (on average 2.5-3.5 tons per rai), which is twice as much as the regular yield volume of OP seeds. After seeding, farmers can harvest their crops in 30–35 days. It is popular among farmers because of all these advantages.       Flowering Pakchoy Khaonuan (F1-Hybrid), which is popular in the Northern and Northeastern regions, is suitable for basic recipes. such as Boiled Flowering Pakchoy with Chili Paste, Northern Thai Spicy Soup, or Northern-Style Flowering Pakchoy Soup.

2. Flowering Pakchoy Pinmorrakot (F1-Hybrid) has dark green and large stalks. Farmers prefers it because of its high weight (average of 90-100 grams per plant), which is superior to other OP plants that weigh just 35-40 grams per plant. Plus, farmers can expect high yields (on average 2.5-3.5 tons per rai), which is twice the volume of ordinary OP seed harvests and can also harvest their crops in 30–35 days after seeding. Flowering Pakchoy Pinmorrakot (F1-Hybrid) is a perfect ingredient for various recipes, particularly Hong Kong-Style ones, such as Stir-fried Flowering Pakchoy with Oyster Sauce, or other recipes similar to Flowering Pakchoy Khaonuan (F1-Hybrid).

Mr. Supat Mekiyanon, Assistant Vice President of Research & Development of Chia Tai Company Limited, commented on the goals for and benefits of breeding Thailand’s first-ever Flowering Pakchoy F1 hybrids: “We acknowledge the significance and potential of moving forward. We have excellent breeding capability for developing hybrid seed varieties that are distinct from the existing OP seeds. The breeding effort intends to bring greater benefits to our fellow farmers by allowing them to obtain larger yields with fewer seeds and enjoy a consistent growth rate, resulting in a single harvest period. After all, farmers can grow their plants efficiently, anticipate yield volumes, benefit from lesser risks, and eventually earn steady income."

Original story here.

Thailand tightens Covid-19 measures with new lockdown: July 22: Fresh COVID-19 restrictions and curfews were imposed in Greater Bangkok and southern provinces, as Thailand tallied record case numbers of COVID-19. The most severe restrictions were targeted at the capital Bangkok, its surrounding provinces and the southern provinces of Pattani, Narathiwas, Yala, and Satun. The measures include a 9 pm to 4 am curfew for non-essential movement, closure of shopping malls, massage parlours, beauty salons, gyms and bars. Restaurants are restricted to take-away only with many businesses seeking temporary premises outside of the closed shopping malls from which to continue to operate. Social gatherings are capped at five people, and officials have urged employees in both private and public sectors to work from home where possible. However, supermarkets, banks, hospitals and medical clinics will still be allowed to open.  Domestic air travel has been suspended to and from Bangkok while other domestic flights must fly at no more than 50% capacity. Strict measures are also in place at checkpoints to prevent interprovincial arrivals from high-risk provinces.

Chia Tai’s “Century Star” Watermelon wins prestigious award in the US: Bangkok, 12 July 2021 – Chia Tai’s “Century Star” watermelon variety was recently awarded as a Regional Winner  in the internationally renowned All-America Selections® Awards.  Chia Tai has amassed wealth of plant breeding know-how over the course of a century. In this regard, Century Star Watermelon is one of the results of meticulous research and development aimed at meeting market demands and adding value to the product, while also commemorating Chia Tai's Centennial. This new seedless watermelon has an attractive dark green rind with yellow spots that resembles the moon and stars in the sky at night, making it a unique product in the market. Apart from the vivid yellow spots that set this award-winning watermelon apart from other varieties, Century Star Watermelon has several additional advantages. It is easy to grow, robust, disease-resistant, and adaptable to a range of planting situations. In addition, this watermelon provides an excellent average yield of 3–5 kilograms. Farmers are rewarded with a beautiful round fruit, sweet and crispy interior flesh from this cutting-edge seedless cultivar. All these traits make Century Star Watermelon a truly deserving award winning variety from All - America Selections (AAS). All-America Selections® was founded in 1932 and continues as the oldest independent testing organization in North America. Every year, new varieties, which have never been sold in North America, are trialed and professional horticulturists select winning varieties based on their performance. Mr. Manas Chiaravanond, Chief Executive Officer of Chia Tai Company Limited, said, “The fact that our Century Star Watermelon won the AAS Regional Winner Award this year is certainly a source of great pride for all of us at Chia Tai. Century Star Watermelon is like a beautiful star that shines brightly and makes all of us in the Chia Tai Family proud, especially as we start the next century of our business operations. The AAS award is testament to Chia Tai’s strong commitment to fostering agricultural innovations and demonstrates our ongoing efforts to improve ourselves over the past century. We have a great team of high-caliber professionals and breeders, and we are committed to providing the finest to our fellow farmers and customers in order to increase food security and enhance people’s quality of life on a sustainable basis.

Mr. Supat Mekiyanon, Assistant Vice President of Research & Development, Chia Tai Company Limited, added, “Chia Tai’s team of watermelon breeders recognizes that yellow spots on the rind of heirloom watermelon varieties are one of the distinguishing qualities that local farmers generally believe will bring them good luck. As a result, any watermelons with yellow spots are rare and expensive on the market. Realizing this, the breeder team chose to capitalize on these distinct traits by improving the quality and developing it to become the Century Star Watermelon, which is superior to other heirloom varieties. This variety of watermelon seeds not only offer greater quality, but also are easy to grow, providing great fruits that are delectable and seedless while meeting current market demands. Century Star Watermelon seeds were trialed by professional horticulturists in the AAS network across America. Based on its performance, our Century Star Watermelon was declared Regional winner of the AAS Awards. 

Chia Tai's Century Star Watermelon seeds will initially be sold in the US and later made available for the Thai market. Interested persons can learn more about news and updates on Facebook and on Chia Tai’s website, as well as Line: @CHIATAISEED


Q2 News

Pumpkin farmers hurting from falling crisis prices: May 19: At Ban Phaeng District Office in Nakhon Phanom Province, a meeting was held to discuss assistance for pumpkin farmers due to the falling price of pumpkin. Participating in the meeting were local leaders from Ban Phaeng, the Second Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Suphachai Phosu, member of parliament for Nakhon Phanom District 1, Ms Kanatha Apinant Thanakaset, and head of the Nakhon Phanom Department of Agricultural Extension, Mr Winai Kong Yuen, and representatives of pumpkin growers from 14 villages in the province. The Deputy District Chief discussed the issue being faced by pumpkin farmers in the area due to the price of pumpkin being much lower than the previous year due to the economic effects of the global pandemic. Speaking at the meeting, a local farmer explained that middlemen were offering only USD 0.064 per kilogram, compared to USD 0.35 per kilogram the previous year. He asked the government and private sector to help support the price at USD 0.16 - 0.19 per kilogram, which would allow the farmers to break even. The mayor of Ban Phaeng Municipality spoke about the benefits to farmers of forming community enterprise groups to negotiate the price of their crops to avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous middlemen. Mr Supachai proposed the setting up of a fund of around USD 3,200 to purchase 30% of the total produce from farmers at USD 0.16 per kilogram and then trying to find a buyer, suggesting that there was a demand for pumpkin juice and pumpkin crisps from consumers. Original story in Thai language 

Thailands ‘National Veg Policy’?: May 13: Thailand agriculture stakeholders came together for an online discussion on creating a ‘national national policy’ which was part of international dialogues to support the UN Food Systems Summit National Dialogue, and co-hosted by Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC), the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and WorldVeg East and Southeast Asia. Nine speakers, including Dr. Vanida Khumnirdpetch, Director of Foreign Agricultural Affairs, MOAC; Delphine Larrousse, WorldVeg Regional Director; and Jody Harris, WorldVeg Global Lead Specialist for Food Systems, engaged more than 250 participants through online presentations and breakout discussions. 

Ideas and comments generated during the dialogue will inform and shape policy platforms at the pre-summit in July and the summit in September.

DOD to proceed with hemp seed imports: May 18: DOD Biotech subsidiary Siam Herbaltech Co., Ltd., plans to proceed with importing hemp seeds imports from the United States this June. The company plans to import 10 varieties from the US, including eight bred for cannabidiol (CBD) extraction, and two conventional hemp (bred for fiber) varieties. See original story in Thai here.

Seeds for Royal Ploughing tradition prepared: May 10: Though the main event of the traditional Royal Ploughing Ceremony -- usually planned as a large public gathering on May 10 on the Sanam Luang royal grounds -- was cancelled citing COVID-19, paddy seeds of five varieties were prepared for distribution to farmers nationwide. The seeds were packed in to 366,000 packets. See here for news in Thai, and descriptions in Thai of five varieties here. 

Chia Tai launches four new products: Chia Tai Home Garden by Chia Tai Company Limited, Thailand’s leading innovative agricultural company, has introduced four new products for keen planters to enjoy.

Developed by Chia Tai, the new products come in new “easy packages” with Melon Golden Queen, Watermelon Smoothy, Sweet Corn Double Delight, and White Cucumber seeds.

• Melon Golden Queen is one of Chia Tai’s most popular melon varieties, with yellow skin, sweet and subtle flesh, and pleasant texture.   

• Watermelon Smoothy is Chia Tai Home Garden’s new seedless watermelon variety that has waxy black skin and delectable red flesh. 

• Sweetcorn Double Delight is bi-colour sweetcorn (white and yellow) with a sweet taste and full yellow kernels. It is also easy to grow and offers great yields. 

• White Cucumber comes with light green and white skin, is easy to grow and resistant to diseases and stands up to freight transport well. It has a short harvest time and can be prepared in a variety of ways. 

The new “easy packages” offer an easy way for customers to enjoy planting at home, especially as many people are having to work from home and spend most of their time at home. 

The four new products are developed with the aim of helping farmers plant fruits and vegetables that meet the needs of consumers, increase food security, and also boost income for farmers. Which is in line with Chia Tai’s broader aim of enhancing quality of life on a sustainable basis by fostering agricultural innovations through quality products and services. 

Those interested can purchase the seeds at leading agricultural supply stores and modern trade stores nationwide. Or place your order at www.ct-homegarden.com /Line: @homegarden / Facebook of Chia Tai Home Garden: www.facebook.com/cthomegarden.

Seeds of four fiber hemp varieties offered for sale: 27 April: The Highland Research and Development Institute (HRDI) will be offering for sale to its partners and the general public seeds of four hemp (non-psychoactive cultivar of Cannabis sativa) varieties from 26 April to 5 May. In total it has prepared for sale 5,600 kilograms of seed,certified by a narcotics control committee under the Ministry of Public Health. All four of the institute’s varieties -- which have PVP registration in Thailand -- were initially bred for production of hemp fiber. Both grain and certified seed are available for individuals at the rate of THB750 and 520 ($23.88 and $16.56) per kg, respectively, with a quota capped at 20kg per individual. See full details here as well as here

Rice seed inspectors dispatched: 27 April:  As Thailand prepares for the coming rice planting season, some 257 ‘rice seed inspectors’ have been dispatched to conduct inspections of rice seed retailers and traders across the kingdom, and thus ensure full compliance with seed quality laws, standards and regulations. Thai news here.

Varietal purity AI analysis of rice seeds has 85% accuracy: 27 April: Associate Professor Dr. Woraphan Kusakulniran of the Mahidol University of Information and Communications Technology has revealed promising research results for using Artificial Intelligence to analyze rice varietal purity in a given sample. Specifically, using Mask R-CNN (Mask Regional Convolutional Neuron Network) and Machine Learning, the composition of two given varieties can be determined from images of sample of rice seeds, with a promising 85% accuracy rate, which is reportedly 20% higher than expert human analysis, findings show. The technique once refined, shows promise for other types of seeds and agricultural produce.  See original story in Thai here as well as here.

DOAE happiness pantry stocked with free seeds: April 24: The Department of Agriculture Extension (DOAE) has added five types of sowing seed to its covid relief ‘Too Pun Suk’ (the Happiness Cupboard), which is a mobile pantry-type cupboard stocked with free food necessities for distribution to members of the public struggling during these pandemic times. The pantry, which is stocked with fresh produce and processed food items in addition to seeds of basil, Thai eggplant, okhra, purple winged-bean and Thai chillies, is located at the DOAE’s main entrance next to Kasetsart University BTS station. Details in Thai here.

Chia Tai Receives Q Mark Certifying Product Safety and Standards:  8 April: Chia Tai Company Limited, Thailand’s leading innovative agricultural company, recently acquired “Q Mark” food safety certification from the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity & Food Standards (ACFS). The mark assures customers that Chia Tai Farm produce meet the bureau’s standards. Q Mark certifies the quality and safety of Chia Tai’s production process which is the company’s top priority. More details here.

Thai RD distributes paddy for planting: April 7: Coinciding with the annual ceremony for Royal Ploughing Day -- a national holiday to commence the primary rice planting season -- Thailand’s Rice Department prepared  1,396 kilograms of paddy seed, including five popular Thai rice varieties: 105 Thai Jasmine; Pathumthani 1; GorKor 43; GorKor 6; and GorKor 79. The Rice Department went on to distribute 366,000 sacks of paddy through its network of Rice Communities. Original story here


Q1 News

THASTHA new president: Dr. Boonyanath Nathwong has commenced her tenure as the new president of Thai Seed Trade Association (THASTA), taking the reins over from Immediate Past President, Dr. Chairerg Sagwansupyakorn. Dr. Boonyanath’s appointment was announced during THASTHA’s General Assembly Meeting on 24 March, held at the Maharuai Hotel in Bangkok. Dr. Boonyanath, who is the Director of Regulatory Affairs at Monsanto, Thailand of @Bayer Crop Sciences, is an active member of APSA’s Standing Committee of International Trade and Quarantine, who has worked diligently with us in a number of regional initiatives.

CP to Invest into Research for Hemp Food Production: March 16: Charoen Pokphand Group has teamed up with Maejo University to collaborate on research into hemp for the development of food products. The move is in line with government policy to promote hemp as a cash crop as a way to increase income for farmers and to benefit public health and the economy. The research will investigate hemp variety development, growing techniques, and methods to utilise hemp extract as an ingredient in food production. Products will be able to be traced back to plant varieties and cultivation sites in order to meet food safety requirements. Ready-made meals containing hemp extract may be released later this year. Original story in Thai here

82 Community Enterprises Now Licensed to Grow Cannabis: March 14: Hemp-related businesses have begun taking off after the FDA removed parts of the cannabis plant from the narcotics schedule in December 2020, and there are now a reported 82 community enterprises throughout the country that have received licenses to grow the plant. These are located in Buriram, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Mae Hong Son provinces as well as Bangkok. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, revealed that the government aimed to promote the development of cannabis to take advantage of a global market estimated to be worth 17.5 billion US dollars. The government is encouraging the development of a complete range of cannabis products to benefit the economy in the fields of traditional Thai medicine, health products, and health tourism.

The purchase price of grade A dried flowers with a CBD content greater than 12% is reported at 45,000 Baht per kg; grade B flowers with CBD content of 10-11.9% at 37,500-43,125 Baht per kg; and flowers with CBD content of 8-9.9% selling at 30,000-35,625 Bcvfaht per kg. Original story in Thai here

Chia Tai Chief named Person of the Year, firm lauded for Best Practices: Mr. Manas Chiaravanond, Chief Executive Officer of Chia Tai Company Limited, Thailand’s leading innovative agricultural company has been named “Person of the Year 2021”, while his company was bestowed with the “Best Practice Awards 2021”. The accolades were conferred during a presentation ceremony on 5 March 2021 at Air Force Convention Hall Read more here.

Webinar Q&A on new Thailand seed import conditions: February 25: APSA, together with the Thai Seed Trade Association (THASTA) and Department of Agriculture (DoA), Thailand on February 25 co-organized the “Q&A Webinar on Thailand Import Conditions on Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant and Corn Seeds”. Broadcast from APSA’s Bangkok Secretariat office, the webinar was held in English to inform and advise concerned importers prepare to comply with the new regulations, which come into force on 13 April, 2021. The new regulations cover various seed specific requirements, conditions and procedures such as those related to certification, inspection procedures, phytosanitary measures (including species-specific pest lists and treatments) as well as seed testing sample size. Presenting on the conditions on behalf of the DoA was Ms Chonticha Rakkrai, (Director, Plant Protection Research and Development Office). Following her presentation, Ms Chonticha, along with her colleagues from the DoA, 

Ms Sukhontip Sombat (Agricultural Research Specialist, Plant Protection Research and Development Office) and Mr. Surapol Yinasawapun (Plant Quarantine Expert). The full webinar can be viewed on APSA’s website here. The summary report and presentation will be uploaded to the APSA members area.   

The 17th National Conference on Seed Technology 2021: 16 Dec: The Seed Association of Thailand, in association with Rajamangala University of Technology Suvarnabhumi, the Rice Department, the Department of Agriculture Extension, the Forestry Department, the Thai Seed Trade Association, the Plant Breeding and Multiplication Association of Thailand, and the Asia Pacifi Seed Association, will hold the 17th National Plant Seeds Symposium during 22 - 24 June 2021 at Rajamangala University of Technology Suvarnabhumi, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Hantra Campus, Ayutthaya Province. The conference will host researchers, academics, and the private sector with the aim of growing Thailand into a global “Seed Hub”. Topics will include information on research and development of seed technology, the direction and framework for seed research for use in the seed industry, and how seed research institutions can solve the problems experienced by the Thai seed industry.

New Thai medical Cannabis cultivar gets PVP: A newly documented Cultivar of Cannabis Sativa has been issued a Plant Variety Protection (PVP) certificate. Details of the PVP application for the “Isara 01” cultivar of Cannabis Sativa, including the cultivar’s origin, phenotypic and physiological characteristics, were publicized by Thailand’s PVP Office (under the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives), via a notice dated December 23, 2020, which was signed by DoA Director-General Pichet Wiriyaphaha, and mandated for a 30-day period for objections to be filed. After no objection was reported, a PVP certificate was issued on January 29, 2021. According to details in the PVP application -- which was jointly lodged on behalf of the Chiang Rai Organic Agro-Forestry Foundation, Department of Medical Services and the Department of Agriculture -- the cultivar was bred over a period of 24 years, starting from landrace seeds collected from farmers, hill tribe people and law enforcement officers in several provinces in Northern Thailand, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Tak and Nan. Though earlier generations of the cultivar were reportedly selected and bred specifically for industrial hemp purposes, later breeding and seed multiplication efforts -- carried out as part of cooperation with Maejo University, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna and the Department of Medical Services -- focused on medicinal properties. According to an analysis of leaf samples, the average cannabinoid content was reported to be 8.55% TCH and 6.93% CBD, respectively. The seeds, are grey and brown colored, and a sample of 1,000 seeds weighs 32 grams. PVP application details in Thai here

New regulation broadens hemp cultivation scope: Since January 29, 2021, Thai authorities have been processing applications from Thai entities for licenses to produce, import, export, distribute, and possess hemp (low THC cultivars of Cannabis sativa). According to “Ministerial Regulation Re: Application and License for Pr

oduction, Importation, Exportation, Selling or Possession of Hemp,” which came into force 30 days after it was published in the Government Gazette (on December 30, 2020), licenses may be issued for various objectives, including study, research and development, or breeding of hemp varieties as well as production of certified hemp seeds. Eligibility for licenses is restricted to Thai citizens, Thailand-registered companies with at least two-thirds of directors, partners, or shareholders holding Thai nationality, and Thailand-registered community enterprises. More details can be found here as well as Thai regulation here. According to the latest amendments to the Thai narcotics law, various parts or derivatives of the cannabis plant -- including  seeds, stems, leaves and extracts -- are not considered narcotics if they contain less than 0.2% THC.

Chia Tai donates vegetable seeds to hill tribe communities: 13 January 2021 Chai Tai Company Limited, Thailand’s leading innovative agricultural company that has grown alongside Thai farmers for a long time, is firmly committed to driving sustainable development for Thai society by promoting people’s quality of life and enhancing children’s development in a bid to ensure food security and uplift people’s living quality on a sustainable basis.  Chia Tai has recently supported “Hom Doi Klai Nao Year 2 Project” organized by E Jan in collaboration with Phetkasem Foundation to develop 3 border patrol police schools in Mae Sariang District, Mae Hong Son Province, including Ban Joprakee, Ban Pomue and Ban Koprae Border Patrol Police Schools. In this regard, Chia Tai donates home garden vegetable seeds which are suitable for planting in highland climate for the local people.  See full story here

DoA Thailand announces seed import conditions: January 2021: The Department of Agriculture (DoA), Thailand has announced new conditions for the import of tomato, pepper, eggplant and maize seeds for sowing in Thailand. The announcement was made on 13 January, 2021 and the new conditions will come into force 90 days after the announcement date. The DoA plans to  submit the English version of the notification to World Trade Organization within February 2021. The conditions cover various seed specific requirements, conditions and procedures such as those related to certification, inspection procedures, phytosanitary measures (including species-specific pest lists and treatments) as well as seed testing sample size. The conditions will be published in English in Asian Seed magazine. Meanwhile, you can find the Thai version for pepper seeds here; eggplant seeds here; maize seeds here; and tomato seeds here

East-West Seeds inks MoU with Community Development Dept: On January 13 East West Seed General Manager Mr. Wichai Laocharoenpornkul signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Suthipong Chulcharoen, Director-General of the Department of Community Development under the Ministry of Interior to commit to a project to distribute 100,000 packets of East-West Seed vegetable seeds as part of a 90-day community food security initiative. Read more here.

 

2020 News

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Covid-19 relief seeds on the way: December 2020:
The Project “ตู้เย็นข้างบ้านต้านภัย COVID– 19” which literally translates to “fridge on the side of your house [home food garden] to protect against Covid-19” has seen lots of demand. So far 245,524 seed kits out of 300,000 had been sent to farmers and citizens who registered online to receive them. The seeds were prepared and donated by the Department of Agriculture Extension, Chia Tai Seeds and East-West Seeds, as reported earlier in the year. More details in Thai language here.

Cannabis seeds, other plant material to be delisted as ‘narcotics’: NOVEMBER 2020:
Thailand’s Narcotics Control Committee resolved on November 24 to exclude the leaves, branches, stems, trunks, bark, fibre and roots of cannabis and hemp from the government's narcotics list. According to the news reported by Bangkok Post here, shoots, including flowers, will remain on the list, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would draft a new public health regulation. Nonetheless, seeds and extracts would still be regulated, not be allowed to contain more than 0.2% of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In subsequent news in DECEMBER, the Tourism and Sports and Public Health ministries had announced plans for the “first medical marijuana tour in Southeast Asia next year” which looks to include plantations in eight provinces: Mae Hong Son, Lampang, Samut Songkhram, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Phatthalung and Chon Buri. According to the news here, “The goal of the tour is to increase awareness of marijuana for medical purposes and inform those who are interested in growing the plant of the laws”.  Also in recent news, as reported by Coconuts Bangkok here,  Thailand has rescheduled more than 100 illicit drugs -- including cocaine, morphine and opium -- to allow for medical and research use. The new regulation as outlined in the Royal Gazette here, are set to come into effect in July 2021. For more information about Thailand’s cannabis industry, see this report.

 

August 2020

Quality rice seed production upgrading with QR-cloud traceability

Dr. Juadee Pongmaneerat, Secretary General of the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards, has revealed details about Thailand’s “QR Trace On Cloud” initiative, which has seen rapid progress to bring digital traceability to the Kingdom’s agricultural commodity supply chain, with a focus on fruit, vegetables and other essential products, such as rice seeds. Featured in an interview with Siam Rath, Dr. Juadee revealed that her bureau has been cooperating with Thailand’s Rice Department to provide training on QR-code traceability to officials at 28 Rice Seed Centers around the country, in addition to farmers and representatives of 24 community-level rice seed production bases, which are also integrating Good Agricultural Practices (GAP seed) and a Q-mark quality assurance scheme. More details in Thai language here

Improving rice seed quality in Roi Et

Rice farmers in the Non Suwan district of Thailand’s Roi Et province previously required as much as 30 kilograms of seed to sow on one rai (1,600 square meters). Farmers in the district supply not only rice for the market, but also seed. Therefore, officials from the province’s Rice Seed Center have been training the farmers on best practices in order to not only improve the quantity and quality of yields, but to reduce overheads and thus increase returns. Training, which has covered weed and soil management, cover crop planting and responsible chemical use, has enabled farmers to reduce their seed requirement significantly to about 10 kg per rai. Quality base seeds have also been supplied.  More details in Thai here

State ramps up support for quality rice seed production in Uttaradit

In order to meet growing demand for high-quality rice seeds, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, through the Rice Department and Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives are shoring support for rice seed farmers in Uttaradit Province, including through training, and making available financial support in the form of subsidies and low-interest loans. More details here in Thai language.

Cabinet gives green light for feed maize grain price guarantee

Thailand’s Cabinet has given the nod for a budget of THB1.9 billion ($60.2 million) to ensure feed-grade maize farmers with a minimum price guarantee of THB 8.5 (US$ 0.27) per kilogram of their crop. The “price guarantee” scheme, which was also offered last year, applies specifically to farmers who planted their crop between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020, with a cap of 30 rai (4.8 hectares) per household eligible. Eligible grain must meet the moisture content requirement of 14.5% while farmers who registered to plant feed maize for seed are not eligible. More details in Thai report here

EWS launches Kitchen Garden for Thai hospital

East-West Seed Thailand on August 7 officially launched its “Kitchen Garden” project at Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital. The news, announced on Facebook here,is to support efforts to “help bring more vegetables to urban areas and support our healthcare heroes during this difficult time”. The leading vegetable seed company partnered with Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital to grow vegetables, flowers and herbs in a 100 square meter area on the hospital’s premises. 

EWS links up with Dept of Ag Extensions Young Smart Farmers

East-West Seed has engaged in a a public-private partnership with Thailand’s Department of Agriculture Extension involving the departments  "Young Smart Farmer” program, in which the seed company will help to develop more young farmers into the field of vegetable production.. Read more details about the partnership here. 

Royal Project veg seeds donated to Nakhon Phanom families

Royal Project vegetable seeds have been donated on behalf of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to 50 families in 13 sub districts of Nakhon Phanom’s muang district in Northeastern Thailand. The seeds, donated during a ceremony, are part of relief efforts for those in Nakhon Phanom negatively affected by the pandemic. More details in Thai language here.

55,000 ganja seeds donated, PVP and cannabis seed bank eyed

Rajamangala University of Technology has recently donated more than 55,000 cannabis seeds to various entities According to this news article by Manager Online, the institution’s Isan campus in Nakhon Ratchasima recently donated 18,000 seeds to the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, which are planned to be distributed to 150 sub-district level “Health Promoting Hospitals” around the country, which will utilize the seeds to grow cannabis plants for the purpose of producing approved cannabis oil-based medicines. This follows the institution’s Sakhon Nakhon campus donating some 37,110 seeds -- including 19,792 of the ‘squirrel's tail’ variety, and another 17,318 of the ‘golden foil’ variety -- to entities approved by the Thailand Food and Drug Administration. The university is in the process of selecting varieties for registering (in accordance with the Thai Plant Variety Protection Act), with a a goal of establishing a dedicated cannabis seed bank. 

‘Father of Thai cannabis’ dies

Thailand’s leading cannabis reform and legalization advocate, Boonthoon Niyamabha, more commonly known as “Loong Tu” or "Uncle Too", passed away on August 29. It was reported that he had suffered chronic heart problems. “Tu was one of the first Thai Nationals to put it all on the line to demand change for Cannabis legalization, the most outspoken and hard speaking advocate I have ever known,” wrote fellow industry advocate, Don Land in a LinkedIn post. Aside from advocating for reform, Tu was also widely revered and respected in Thai circles for successfully treating cancer patients with a homemade THC formula, which he taught patients and others how to make. His large following has nicknamed him the ‘Father of Thai cannabis’. 

For more information on Thailand’s cannabis industry, see this link

 

JUNE AND JULY 2020

THASTA President warns of fall armyworm increased threat this year

Dr. Chairerg Sagwansupyakorn, the President of the Thai Seed Trade Association (THASTA) has warned for agriculturalists and concerned government officers to consider the potential loss for a new round of devastation on cropping due to the threat of the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda). Interviewed by Thai media here, Dr Chairerg pointted out that the pest had caused loss to more than 30% of the corn crop in a previous season, and now that it’s maize sowing season we cannot be complacent. Now that there has been bans and/or  increased regulation on certain crop-protection chemicals, the expense of farmers to control any pest outbreak this year would affect the bottom line of farmers, he said, providing a number of figures.  In related recent news, Thailand had enforced a ban in  early June on two widely used agricultural chemicals: paraquat and chlorpyrifos. According to Reuters, some 10 million farming households in Thailand relied on paraquat to kill weed on palm, rubber, sugarcane, corn, and cassava plantations.

Drought affects rice output

According to this July 23 article, citing figures from theThai Rice Exporters Association, Thailand is projected to only export 6.5 million tonnes of rice by the end of the year, compared to 7.5 million tonnes last year. If so, it would be the lowest quantity exported by the Kingdom in a decade. In the first half of 2020, Thailand exported 3.14 million tonnes of rice, a reduction of 32.7% from the same period last year. This was worth US$2.2 billion, down 12% year-on year. The reduction in exports is blamed reduced output due toprolonged drought. In related news, rice cropping in parts of Prachaup Khiri Khan province are at risk due to “dangerously low level” of the Pran Buri reservoir, the province’s main supply of water other than rain. A meeting at the end of July was scheduled to identify which farmland would be prioritised and  farmers would be advised to plant more drought-friendly crops. 25,000 rai or 4,000 hectares of seasonal rice would be at the mercy of rainwater. Report published here

Royal seeds presented to model farmer

On July 16 in Sukhothai province, a ceremony was held to present disease-resistant, climate-resilient seeds on behalf of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The seeds were presented to a model farmer during a ceremony attended by government officials. News in Thai here.  

 

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.