The identification of barriers and enablers impacting the adoption and maintenance of the Thai government’s organic standard: the case of Thai organic rice producers (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsPongcharoen, Kotchapornshow all
This doctoral research examined the causal factors contributing to organic farming practices and certification in Thailand. Organic farming practices involve farmers using methods of crop production that rely on specific techniques. These include: crop rotation, the use of natural fertilisers and pesticides, as well as the prohibition of synthetic petrochemicals, hormones, antibiotics, and genetically modified organisms - GMOs (Kilcher, 2007; Kristiansen, Taji, & Reganold, 2006; Sandhu, Wratten, & Cullen, 2010). In response to consumer demands, more farmlands in Thailand are being converted to organic production (Midmore et al., 2001). In 2003, Organic Thailand certification (a Thai government standard) was introduced by the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives after excessive use of agrochemical agriculture, such as pesticides and synthetic fertilisers (Pornpratansombat, Bauer, & Boland, 2011). With the introduction of organic certification, more organic farmers have started implementing organic practices according to the standard (Kramol, Villano, Kristiansen, & Fleming, 2015).
While earlier studies dealt with consumers’ perceptions and trust in organic products (Abrams, Meyers, & Irani, 2010; Ara, 2003; Kihlberg & Risvik, 2007; Law, 2015; Roitner-Schobesberger, Darnhofer, Somsook, & Vogl, 2008), research with an explicit focus on farmers’ points of view towards organic certification has yet to be scrutinised. Several studies have analysed the enablers and barriers faced by farmers when seeking and implementing organic certification in some countries: the UK (Barrett, Browne, Harris, & Cadoret, 2002), Austria (Darnhofer, Schneeberger, & Freyer, 2005), and the United States (Guthman, 2014). A small amount of research has considered organic certification in developing countries: Nepal (Bhat, 2009), Costa Rica (Blackman & Naranjo, 2012), and Africa (Bolwig, Gibbon, & Jones, 2009). To date, there appears to be no study that has explored and uncovered the support structures in place (enablers) or the obstacles faced (barriers) when farmers pursue and try to maintain their Organic Thailand certification. What is more, little is known about how Thai farmers take advantage of the enablers and deal with the barriers when seeking to implement good organic farming practices and processes. This research addresses these gaps.
This thesis presents the research processes the researcher went through. First, a thorough analysis of (a) organic farming practices outside Thailand, (b) organic farming practices inside Thailand, and (c) the Organic Thailand certification processes carried out. The objective was to develop a comprehensive list of the enablers and barriers organic Thai farmers might face when seeking and maintaining the organic certification, Organic Thailand, which could then be tested and scrutinised by organic Thai farmers. The most common crop farmed in Thailand is rice (Devendra & Thomas, 2002) so the participants recruited for this research were certified organic rice farmers based in Thailand.
The research adopted a qualitative approach, semi-structured interviews with certified organic rice farmers, document reviews and analysis, and observations. A content analysis approach was employed. The research presents a model of Thai Organic Rice Farming (TORF) which explains four key ‘actors’ (farmers, standards, resources and skills, and management system/documentation), and four key ‘processes’ (learning about the standard, assessing the availability of resources and skills developing practical knowledge about managing and documenting, and operational competencies) in the successful implementation of organic rice farming practices and certification. The limitations and contributions of the thesis/research are discussed.