Thai rice farmers shun pesticides and fight climate change

The Japan Times 

MAE RIM, THAILAND – Battling drought, debt and ailments blamed on pesticides, rice farmers in northern Thailand have turned to eco-friendly growing methods despite powerful agribusiness interests in a country that is one of the top exporters of the grain in the world. Walking through a sea of green waist-high stalks, farmer Sunnan Somjak said his fields had been "exhausted" by chemicals, his family regularly felt ill and his profits were too low to make ends meet. But that changed when he joined a pilot agricultural project for the SRI method, which aims to boost yields while shunning pesticides and using less water. "Chemicals can destroy everything," the 58-year-old said, adding that the harvest in his village in Chiang Mai province has jumped 40 percent since employing the new method. There have been health benefits too: "It's definitely better, we don't get sick anymore," he added.

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