Trade Aid, New Zealand’s oldest social enterprise est. 1973, has been trading with Green Net Cooperative since 2005. In this article, we learn more about Green Net and the social enterprise behind Trade Aid’s Organic Coconut Milk and Jasmine Rice.
Established in October 1993, Green Net is a Thai social enterprise, working to promote sustainable agriculture by providing fair trade market access to producer groups, producing organic products. Their vision is to be a leader in promoting and supporting organic farming and fair trade through environmentally and socially responsible business practice.
- conduct trade with fair prices for producers and buyers
- support producers to organise as community enterprises to produce high quality organic and natural products which are safe for producers and for the environment
- campaign on environmental and fair trade issues
In August 2018 Green Net Cooperative was officially recognised as a social enterprise themselves by the National Social Enterprise Promotion Committee and is the first and only cooperative approved in Thailand.
The Green Net Co-operative has approximately 3,000 members, most of whom are organic producers organised into 13 farmer groups in the northern, north-eastern and central regions of Thailand.
Currently Green Net is working with farmers who produce rice, coconuts, pineapple, aloe vera, various herbs, cotton, sesame oil, soy, various vegetables, and mulberry/silk.
The prices paid to farmers must cover their direct costs plus a 'fair return for their labour and skill'. These prices will always be above standard market prices for products that meet jointly-agreed quality criteria. These premium prices are described by Green Net as being 'normally 10-15% higher than conventional prices', and are typically reviewed annually, although they can be adjusted between the annual price-setting meetings if market prices increase or if production costs change.
Additional income from fair trade sales has allowed small farmer groups to purchase their own rice mill, and to fund local schools through donations for school supplies and for infrastructural improvements. Higher income from the sale of their rice is now also allowing many rice farmers to remain in their villages, rather than seek work in the cities during the lean spell between harvests. Remaining in the countryside, where costs of living are much lower, brings its own economic benefits.
There is a strong focus on educational support; the children of many farmers receive scholarships, and lunches for schoolchildren are also provided from fair trade price premiums to ensure that they can focus well during their afternoon classes.
-Article by Trade Aid/ Photo Caption - Janpang Posithong, rice farmer, Green Net.
Janpang Posithong is a rice farmer and a member of Green Net, a Thai-based fair trade organisation and social enterprise. Through Green Net, she has received an interest-free loan and has used it to drill a water bore. With the additional water she can now access, she produces vegetables for home consumption and for sale at the local market. Her family's income has increased by 20-30% as a result of having better access to water.