Rambutan fruit suffers from oversupply, so farmers in Trat joined together to sell their fruit in Vietnam themselves.
Enjoying the fruits of their labour, Trat rambutan growers band together to keep both yields and prices high by Wichit Chantanusornsiri
The climate along the Eastern Seaboard is especially suited to the cultivation of fruit crops and yields are constantly improving, but the increased output has meant a greater surplus that has resulted in prices falling during harvest seasons.
This year, the combined output of durian, mangosteen and rambutan, mainly from Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces, is forecast to grow by 4.5% to 766,000 tonnes.
Output is slightly down so far at this early point in this year's season due to less-than-optimal weather conditions, and fruit prices have been better as a result. But to ensure that selling prices remain at high levels, long-term solutions are crucial to help planters
Export markets can absorb some of the excess, but freshness suffers in the case of long-distance shipments.
"Freshness can be maintained by packing the fruit in cold storage or shipping by air, both of which are too expensive for small exporters. We must find alternatives to make our export business more viable commercially," said Siriya Chanploey, a fruit planter and trader.
Early on, she adopted local wisdom to preserve fruit freshness at the lowest possible cost, forming the Trat Provincial Cooperative with her fellow planters.
The 7,000-member cooperative set up the joint venture LT Thai-Vietnam Co with Vietnamese businessmen, as that country has become a major fruit export market.
Mrs Siriya said the company ships mostly rambutans to Vietnam from orchards in Trat province. The cold storage method would cost 70,000 baht a trip, but she has managed to slash that to only 20,000 baht.
Trucks deliver the fruit in plastic boxes to the processing plant, where only good-quality pieces are chosen. They are then rinsed in water, covered with a moist, fibrous sheet and packed in ice to keep them cool until they reach their destination.
Using this method, freshness can be maintained for more than two days for the trip despite it being nearly 1,000 kilometres from Trat to Vietnam's fresh markets.
Thai fruits have received a warm welcome from the Vietnamese. Rambutan orders have expanded from only 30 tonnes a day five years ago to 400-500 tonnes at present.
"Our profit is small, only one baht a kilogramme, but it's pretty good overall due to the large volume," said Mrs Siriya
She wants the state to ask the Vietnamese government to help facilitate cross-border trading between small exporters by shortening the lengthy customs process of that country.
Rambutans are delivered in plastic boxes to the processing plant, where low-cost cooling methods can keep them fresh for the two days it takes to reach Vietnam’s fresh markets.
"The holdup means much of the ice has melted by the time the fruit reaches the markets, resulting in increased spoilage," said Mrs Siriya.
She said Vietnam is a relatively new market, so quality may not necessarily be a main selling point, but for established markets such as China, quality is all-important.
Lamied Kongkaew, another fruit trader in Trat, said her clients are mainly Chinese, and freshness is essential.
She identified the Middle East as another new emerging market for Thai fruits and said she expects 100 tonnes of orders from that region this year.
Ms Lamied expressed concern that rising prices for rubber and palm oil have prompted farmers to abandon orchards in favour of those crops and said output from the eastern provinces could decline significantly as a result.
A recent survey by the Office of Agricultural Economics showed the plantation area of some types of fruit crops along the Eastern Seaboard, especially rambutan, has fallen by 4% to 1.73 million rai as landowners increasingly turn to rubber instead.
The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives has introduced a loan scheme aimed at lifting crop prices.
The scheme targets cooperatives formed by Trat planters for marketing purposes. A 15-billion-baht credit line has been established, mostly for fruit tree purchases, plant construction and working capital for farmers.
The Trat Provincial Cooperative's LT Thai-Vietnam joint venture is one client of the scheme. Planters can distribute their yields through the company at higher prices than other traders receive.
For example, rambutans are priced higher at 2-5 baht a kilogramme. The company charges a service fee of 5,000 baht per truck.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Enjoying the fruits of their labour, Trat rambutan growers band together to keep both yields and prices high, 30/05/2011, Wichit Chantanusornsiri, link)
the fruits of labour - what you gain from the hard work you do
enjoy the fruits of their labour - enjoy what you have gained from hard work
band together - join together into one group (to do some activity)
yields - how much crop a farmer gets from farming one hectare of land ผลผลิต
climate - the general weather conditions usually found in a particular place สภาพอากาศ
Eastern Seaboard - the area to the southeast of Bangkok running past Chonburi, Sri Racha, Pattaya and Rayong, that is highly developed with many factorys, chemical plants, etc
X especially suited to Y - X does together well with Y, can be used to do Y, X matches Y
cultivation - growing plants
constantly - continuously; all the time อย่างต่อเนื่อง
surplus - an amount above the required or necessary amount
harvest - the activity of collecting a crop, in this case a rice crop การเก็บเกี่ยวผลผลิต
forecast - a statement about what will happen in the future based on information available now พยากรณ์
optimal - the best possible
less-than-optimal weather conditions - bad weather
ensure - to make certain that something happens or is done รับรอง ให้ความมั่นใจ ให้การยืนยัน
crucial - extremely important because it effects the result of something สำคัญยิ่ง
planters - farmers who plant and grow crows เกษตรกรผู้ปลูกพืชไร่
absorb - to take in a liquid, gas or other substance form the surface or space around ซึมซับ ดูดกลืน
excess - too much of something, the amount above what you need มากเกินปริมาณที่พอดี
absorb the excess - can use the amount above what you need (and avoids wasting it)
maintained - kept at the same level (not allowed to increase or decrease)
pack - put things into a container so it can be transported to stores and sold as a product
storage - the putting and keeping of things in a special place for use in the future การเก็บ
cold storage - a cold place to keep perishable products such as fruit or meat ("refrigerated storage space usually with temperatures under 45ºF (7ºC). Low temperatures decrease the degradation rate of organic materials such as paper and photographs, resulting in significantly increased usable life spans") (See Wikipedia)
shipping - the transport of goods especially on ships
shipping by air - sending by airplane
alternatives - different choices that can be made
viable - will be successful and not fail, able to work as intended ซึ่งใช้การได้ (แผนการ, คำแนะนำ) ซึ่งประสบผลสำเร็จได้
commercially viable - can be turned into a successful business (and not fail and go out of business because it does not make money)
fruit planter - a fruit farmer
local - in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
wisdom - knowledge gained over a long period of time from experience
adopted local wisdom - use the special knowledge that people living in a local area have
preserve - to keep something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed ทำให้คงอยู่, สงวน อนุรักษ์
cooperative - cooperative - working together to achieve a goal ความร่วมมือกัน (here means: an agricultural cooperative)
agricultural cooperative -
fellow - used for talking about people who are similar to you or are in the same situation เพื่อนร่วมชะตากรรม
joint - done with someone else; belonging to or shared between two or more people ความร่วมมือกัน
venture - a new activity, usually in business, which involves risk or uncertainty ธุริกิจเสี่ยงแต่สามารถทำกำไรได้
joint venture - a business owned and operated by two or more other companies
slash - (of a budget, price, etc.) to cut, especially by a large amount ตัด
profit - money that you make from selling goods and services after all your costs have been paid กำไร
volume - the quantity or amount of something
food processing - processes in a factory for turning crops and meat into food products, "the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food or to transform food into other forms for consumption by humans or animals either in the home or by the food processing industry" (See Wikipedia)
processing plant - a food processing factory that turns crops into food products that can be sold in stores (clean, cut, cook, can, package)
rinse - washing in clean water to remove dirt
moist - containing water; slightly wet เปียกชื้น
fibrous - containing a lot of fibres
sheet - a large flat piece of something
destination - the place where someone or something is going ปลายทาง, จุดหมายปลายทาง
state - government รัฐ
facilitate - help, to make it possible or easier for something to happen ทำให้สะดวกขึ้น
border - the official line separating two areas, regions or countries เขตแดน อาณาเขต
cross-border trading - buying and selling goods between two countries (sending goods across the border from one country to another)
customs - the government agency that controls goods coming into and going out of the country and collects taxes on them กรมศุลกากร
process - a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
holdup - delay (taking more time than planned)
spoil (verb) - when food becomes dirty and you can no longer eat it
spoilage (noun) - the percentage of food that spoils before it can be sold to customers in stores
selling point - one good thing (point) about a product (that helps sales people sell the product to customers)
established - be in a successful position over a long period of time มีตำแหน่งที่มั่นคง has existed for a long time ก่อตั้่ง
clients - (formal) customer ลูกค้า
essential - necessary and important ที่จำเป็น ที่สำคัญ
identified - named ระบุชื่อ
concern - a worry ความกังวล
expressed concern that - said something to show that they were worried and concerned about something
rubber - a material that can undergo elastic deformation under stress and return to its previous size without permanent deformation
prompted - caused
abandon - to leave a place ละทิ้ง stop doing an activity เลิก
abandon X in favour of Y - stop X and start Y, stop doing X and do Y, leave X and go to Y
significantly - in an important way อย่างสำคัญ
survey - gathering information about what people think about different subjects (public opinion) by asking large numbers of people questions and counting their answers, and then using statistics, graphs, and tables to present results (See Wikipedia)
plantation - a large farm where crops such as tea, coffee, cotton, sugar or, in this case, trees, are grown ไร่ นาขนาดใหญ่
loan - an amount of money that a person, business, or country borrows, especially from a bank เงินกู้
scheme - a plan that is developed by a government or large organisation in order to provide a particular service for people แผนการ โครงการ
the scheme targets cooperatives - the money, stocks of goods, etc. that are used to run a business, pay employees and produce and sell more goods
credit - money loaned; money that you owe someone (a bill that grows until you pay it off at the end of the month, for example)
credit line - a loan available to a person or company, if they want or need it (an amount of money that can be borrowed, a pre-approved loan)
construction - the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
capital - money invested in a business
working capital - the resources such as money and stocks of raw materials used to run the day-to-day operations of a business, used for things such as paying employees and producing more produce goods (See Wikipedia)
client - a customer or someone who receives services ลูกค้า
distribute - send to stores and other places where the product is sold แจกจ่าย
traders - people who buy and sell things for profit
charges - a payment that has to be made for something เงินที่เรียกเก็บ
fee - an amount of money that you pay to be allowed to do something ค่าธรรมเนียม, ค่าตอบแทน, ค่าบริการ