Tor – founder of Boonmuengpak, a shop selling organic rice and rice products from farm to fork.
Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?
I think for the courage to change my life. I did many jobs before. I worked as a chef, I had my own restaurant, but I’m not really a gifted cook. Before farming I used to work as broker in Bangkok. I earned good money but I wasn’t really happy. That’s why I decided to quit everything and come back to my hometown to become a farmer. I like to see the product of my work. If you plant rice you see how it grows, changing every day.But coming back wasn’t a piece of cake. Being in Bangkok for so many years I got used to another lifestyle.
Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?
Changing the local farmers’ mindset. It was not so long time ago when all the farmers did organic. Even our parents generation didn’t use fertilizer. But nowadays nobody believes you can grow anything without chemicals. Do organic means also finding a new mill and a new market. If I sell the rice to the normal mill, they just mix it with the rest. For now I do it manually together with my brother-in-law.
Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?
I have to test the market first. Once my business is stable I will have more arguments to convince other farmers to change for organic. I hope they will follow me. It is challenging from both sides: farmers, who are not so easy with changes, but also clients who just don’t care. They want cheaper rice. There is not much awareness about organic rice in our society. I opened my own shop to sell the organic rice and, above all, I’m building the trust within the community. Sometimes I give people rice for free, so they can try it, taste it and decide if they want to come back for more.
Would you like to add something more?
I think that helping people, giving, is essential in one’s life. I want to do something good for the others. And it returns to me as happiness. At the end of the day I just feel happy that I could do something to help.
The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.