Central Food Retail a food business under Central Retail , joins forces with four sectors — government, private sector, agricultural sector and people — to highlight JingJai Farmers’ Market as a model strategy to drive the growth of the grassroot economy and increase the capacity of Thai farmers through offering jobs, sources of income, and sustainable growth. The project reaffirms the company’s social responsibility commitment, and is in line with Central Group’s policy. By the end of 2020, there will be 29 locations of JingJai Farmers’ Market in 27 provinces, under the concept of “Happy, Proud, and Environment-Conscious”. Recently, JingJai Farmers’ Market has been introduced in three provinces, namely Kanchanaburi, Surin and Lampang, and JingJai Farmers’ Market in Surin is recognized as a blueprint for improving organic produce.
Maytinee Phisutsinthop, Executive Vice President, Central Food Retail, the food business under Central Retail , said, “Central Group and Tops first introduced JingJai Farmers’ Market in 2018 at Central Plaza Udon Thani as a community market where farmers could sell their produce, focusing on safe, toxin-free and organic products, as well as ready-to-eat food. Today, we have 18 locations in 16 provinces, and our goal is to expand our Farmers’ Market to 29 locations in 27 provinces. With the COVID-19 outbreak, many farmers have been affected and they do not have enough income as their distribution channels are limited. JingJai Farmers’ Market is a true companion who stands by Thai people and we have opened spaces for farmers to sell their products to ease their burden. In June, we have added three more locations at Robinson Lifestyle Kanchanaburi, Robinson Lifestyle Surin, and Central Plaza Lampang, with a new normal concept to ensure safety for both buyers and sellers. JingJai Farmers’ Market in each location is different and unique, offering famous local products, vegetables and fruits. JingJai Farmers’ Market in Kanchanaburi, a city with abundant water resources and fertile soils, known for delicious fruits like durians and rambutans especially in Thong Pha Phum, as well as natural mushrooms, features products from farmers from 11 communities in 52 subdistricts and 13 districts. They sell famous Kanchanaburi products such as Thong Pha Phum durians, Nam Dok Mai mangoes, Pattavia pineapples, Kan fragrant rice, and natural mushrooms. JingJai Farmers’ Market in Surin offers various types of rice as it is the biggest rice and organic farming area in the Northeast. Organic farming has been listed as the province’s strategy. At the market, there are farmers from 12 communities in 25 subdistricts and nine districts selling their well-known products such as local greens from Ban Samrong Vegetable Bank Community Enterprise, Paka Umpul rice and Surin jasmine rice (GI product) by Khor Kho New Theory Farming Community Enterprise, Sabai Jai Wagyu premium beef, pork from Integrated Pitted Pig Farming Community Enterprise, kun chiang, kalamae, sweet coconuts, Rian Bat jackfruits, Golden King watermelons, Bak Ngaew, and rice straw mushrooms (GI product). JingJai Farmers’ Market in Lampang, a carriage city known for processed fruits, offers products from farmers in seven communities in 22 subdistricts and seven districts, such as Phu Ngao pineapples from New Generation Farmers Group of Lampang (Suan Phum Kham), Suk Jai Farm vegetables, Waew Manee Community Enterprise pandan rice, and crispy rice with watermelon syrup from Ban Thung Man Nuea Farmers’ Community Enterprise.
JingJai Farmers’ Market in Surin has been chosen as a role model, in line with the province’s strategy to elevate the status of organic farm produce. It has received great support from government offices and local farmers. Kraisorn Kongchalard, Surin Governor, talked about the province’s agricultural strategies to help local farmers, and the partnership with Central Food Retail to operate JingJai Farmers’ Market in Surin, “Surin is a role model for organic farming following the government’s policy, so organic farming is not new to our locals. However, in the past, they did not form a strong community. COVID-19 taught us that food stability is very crucial to the development of our country because everyone needs food. If you can establish a strong agricultural foundation, we can be the region’s hub of safe food. This is a good opportunity for Surin people. We are next to our neighboring country so there’s a big market for us, thanks to convenient transportation. If we support Surin farmers to do mixed farming, it would be great for them. We are currently solving water issues and the strategies that we have are to promote swamps in their farms. Farmers who are willing to build a swamp in their farms will be supported by the province, Tops and Central Group. This will lead to food stability, because water is a source of life, and if there’s water, our farmers can grow household vegetables, raise animals, and do fish farming. This can be a good example for other areas to follow. The main problem for our locals now is the market — our farmers are good at farming, but not selling. Having Jing Jai Farmers’ Market at Robinson Lifestyle Surin fixes this problem as it offers a space where our farmers can sell, exchange knowledge, and plan their farming to ensure continuity and variety. More importantly, JingJai Farmers’ Market will teach them the importance of entrepreneurship and standing on their own feet. I am proud to see older people selling their products and passing on the knowledge to their younger family members. They can spend their time doing something useful, and the produce that they sell is organic. We have a research center at Rajamangala University of Technology Isan, Surin Campus, which has its own labs to check the quality of the produce, so this makes Surin very powerful when it comes to organic farming. I believe that Surin locals are united. JingJai Farmers’ Market in Surin is a role model that reflects the cooperation among the government, the private sector, the agricultural sector and the public, so we can all be proud of this achievement. When our people are strong, next in line is taking care of cooperatives, marketing and branding, which are important.”
Maytinee added that there are plants to make JingJai Farmers’ Market a learning center for marketing knowledge for local farmers. They will be supported to produce high value vegetables which are in demand in the market, and organic greens which are good for themselves, the environment, and the consumers. They also receive logistic support through the Direct Purchase via Backhaul Project which utilizes the company’s strength in logistics to help farmers reduce their logistic expenses and make it easier to distribute local produce from various communities to Bangkok, which is a big and affluent market. This helps increase their income and follows the government’s strategy to drive growth in the grassroot economy. Thai farmers will be developed with more job opportunities, more income, sustainable growth, and knowledge in modern retail. Communities, farmers and local businesses in each province will be trained, and they will receive support in selling their products both online and offline. This is Central Group’s vision and objective, to help strengthen Thai farmers for better quality of life.
Success stories of farmers who have sold their products at JingJai Farmers’ Market
Khosit Sawangsuk is the President of Ban Samrong Vegetable Bank Community Enterprise, which has now become Nong Sanit Organic Vegetable Cooperative Limited. Initially, more than 80 families of farmers in the community faced low prices, and they formed a group to grow chemical-free vegetables. They were able to use their 45 rai of farming land to grow organic standard vegetables (conversion period) and sell them in their community and to schools and restaurants in their province. With the COVID-19 situation, many restaurants and schools were closed so they could not sell their produce. Tops market Surin offered a special place for farmers to sell their farm produce, and recently, JingJai Farmers’ Market, which is a permanent market, was launched. The members of the group are very happy to have a venue to sell their high quality produce directly to consumers. They aim that in five years Nong Sanit will be an entirely organic farming subdistrict, and sell their produce to other Tops locations.
Aree Chaloeysuk, owner of Wild Rabbit, used to be a prison officer, but he has been running an organic mixed farm for 20 years on 200 rai of land. He is very happy to have a chance to sell his produce in a shopping mall for the first time, as he’d never had an opportunity before. He thanks Tops for this opportunity because it also helps many people in his farm. He wants people in his province to have access to high quality local produce. Highlight products from his farm include organic Thong Pha Phum durians which are smooth, mild, sweet and rich, and Thong Pha Phum rambutans which are crunchy and sweet without too much juice. Thong Pha Phum’s soil is rich in potassium so the fruits grown here are delicious, and the water from Tanaosee Mountain is natural. He also has lemons with edible skin which are not too sour. Tops will sell his lemons in other Tops locations as well.
Chanraem Phuttasen, owner of Thanyawalai Farm in Huay Krachao subdistrict, Huay Krachao district, said, “I worked in an office but my father had health issues so I returned home to take care of my parents and run a farm. I’ve been a farmer for four years now and my farm covers an area of 12 rai. My signature products are organic chicken eggs and organic duck eggs. My farm is different because our chickens and ducks are fed organic food and we don’t use color pigments. Another highlight product is butternuts which are rich, smooth and not too firm, which makes it great for cooking and baking. Selling my produce at JingJai Farmers’ Market helps promote Thanyawalai Farm and is a great distribution channel for us.”