September 30, 2014
“The most important thing is to make sure we understand the real needs of the farmers and find relevant solutions,” explains Seksan Ekkajit, Chief Agronomist of Yara Thailand.
The 22 million farmers of Thailand are faced with the same challenges as farmers in many other Asian countries: How to increase production and earnings when no more arable land is available and the environmental impact has to be reduced?
In Asia, Yara has found that meeting farmers face-to-face is by far the most efficient way of discussing these issues and finding solutions. In Thailand alone the company's 25 agronomists attend more than 2000 farmer meetings annually. The topics are almost always the same – the crop challenges in the area.
The farmers also have the possibility to bring their problematic plant leaves or fruits and soil samples to so-called crop clinics, to better determine what is needed to boost both yield and quality.
Yara employs more than 300 agronomists across Asia, and farmer meetings like those in Thailand are also used in countries like Vietnam, China and Indonesia. In total Yara organized approximately 6500 farmer meetings in Asia in 2013. With 40-50 farmers attending each meeting this means the company sees more than 250,000 farmers each year in this region.
“Excess and unbalanced fertilization are two key problems in Chinese agriculture. Our agronomists are using Yara knowledge and global experience, combined with local scientific research and experiences, to improve nutrient use management,” says Cheng Wu Huang, Chief Agronomist in Yara China.
In addition to increased yields and farmer profitability, he is convinced also about the environmental effects. China is a market dominated by urea and ammonium nitrogen fertilizers. Since the early 1990s Yara has advocated the usage of nitrate-based fertilizers, which are both more efficient and environmentally friendly, and this has contributed to increased production and use of these types of fertilizers.
“Chinese farmers have definitely recognized the benefits of nitrates, and since the early 1990s the production of nitrate-based NPKs in China has increased from 600,000 tons to more than 3,000,000 tons per year. This has reduced greenhouse gas emissions significantly,” says Cheng Wu Huang.
Farmer meetings will be one of the most important channels for knowledge transfer also in coming years, as farmers are still facing the need to improve profitability and environmental performance.
“As we see it, good economic farming is good environmental farming,” says Seksan Ekkajit of Yara Thailand.