Rice is one of the key Fairtrade Products from the region supporting over 27 producer organizations across India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Thailand. The decline in the sales of Ft rice from the region has been one of the major concerns over the past few years. With an objective to promote sustainable production systems and help small and marginal rice producers from Asia and Pacific region to get access to international markets under Fairtrade conditions, a 2-day workshop was conducted by NAPP in 2019. The meeting was attended by 32 participants from Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan representing rice producers from both small producer organizations and contract production.
The objective of the workshop was to deliberate on the issues and challenges faced by rice producers in their respective region with respect to lack of market access for our producers – such as lack of data on consumer demand regarding varieties required; lack of efforts to build capacities in the supply chain to access the Fairtrade markets in Global North, absence of marketing strategies to reach out to end consumers among other issues.
The ultimate goal was to come up with solutions to address these concerns and one such proposition was to form an ‘All Fairtrade Rice Producers Network or Forum’- an informal structure promoted by the Rice producers themselves and supported by NAPP. The network shall identify opportunities and challenges of rice producers in the region and develop a future roadmap to address the backward support mechanisms or forward linkage initiatives.
Thomas Meyer, NFO Switzerland presented on the FT system support on market development, current market share of FT products in Switzerland and international market, market challenges in the region with respect to the sale of FT rice from Asia. He provided his inputs to find solutions to the challenges discussed, explore opportunities, and develop the Rice product category competitive through mutual support and initiatives between NFO’s, NAPP, and Producer Organisations.
Martin Boon, Fairtrade Original, led the session on business plan and marketing strategies and ways to improve the sale of FT rice in the competitive market. The network agreed to meet at least once in a year to discuss and update on the developments based on the feedbacks and new strategies proposed. The road map of the rice network forum will be developed for 2020 and onwards.