Update from Chiang Mai: Community Maize Breeders

Members of the Maize Breeders’ Cooperative group in Phrao District, Chiang Mai Province, are currently planting maize in order to breed new varieties of corn well-suited to the local area. In the process, they are developing skills in corn breeding, under the training and guidance of Dr. Chokechai Aekatasanawan, Director of the National Corn and Sorghum Research Center. In the past, farmers in the area were dependent on large companies, such as CP, to source their corn seeds. After participating in trainings facilitated by BioThai Foundation, these farmers are cultivating their skills and becoming corn breeders themselves, developing localized strains of corn, while also strengthening community self-sufficiency. In this way, the farmers are also developing their own local enterprises.

A representative of the Maize Breeders’ Cooperative contributed to a seminar “Maize Production for Sustainable Animal Feed through Use of Seeds Bred by Local Farmers” on 29-30 November 2017. Mr. Pibun Tongdi, a local farmer and maize breeder, shared his experiences, along with Mr. Subin Rityen from BioThai Foundation’s Seed Exchange project. The seminar, hosted by the Northern Development Foundation (NDF), involved exchange with 40 participants from Myanmar, including farmers and representatives of NGOs. Participants were likewise interested in developing skills in maize breeding within their respective communities in order to gain greater independence from large companies and to ensure a sustainable source of maize for animal feed.