By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THOUGH MOST ASPARAGUS FARMS are famously located in the western part of the country and largely bound for export, a community enterprise group of farmers in a remote district of Lopburi has humbly tended to the growing of the greenish, crispy vegetable for domestic consumption which could bring them a well-deserved sales profit.
In 2018, a community enterprise group consisting of some 30 farmers of Koh Rang subdistrict in Chai Badan district of the central province opened asparagus plantations where the soil was usually parched and the most part of the farming area was literally vulnerable to drought.
Given an essential know-how provided by officials of the Department of Agriculture, the farmers managed to grow asparagus plants which yielded satisfactory crops for as many as four harvests in a year.
According to farmer Rirk Khongsomjai who heads the village-based enterprise group, an average of 1.4 tons of asparagus worth some 81,000 baht in sales profit at ex-farm prices was expected per rai throughout this year, compared to an average of 31,000 baht in total producing costs per rai.
None of the community enterprise farmers cultivated any other plants, given the good selling prices of their asparagus which passed the GAP (good agricultural practices) standards and could widely vary in a range of 80 to 20 baht per kilogramme, depending on the freshly-harvested vegetable’s qualities.
Given the ex-farm price of 80 baht a kilo for their vegetable which may be graded A+, the enterprise member farmers were determined to produce nothing lower than B+ to earn an average of 40 baht a kilo, Rirk remarked.
The secret to securing a lucrative price for the asparagus was simply to produce it with qualities comparable to those destined for export, the enterprise leader concluded.
Pickup truck-riding traders came over to the farms to buy and transport the crops, nearly all of which was delivered to domestic markets. Only a little volume of the Koh Rang asparagus may have been barely graded up to export quality, however.
Thailand’s major asparagus plantations are situated in the western provinces of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Petchaburi, Ratchaburi and Nakhon Pathom as well as those in other regions of the country including Nakhon Ratchasima, Petchaboon, Rayong and Lopburi.
The enterprise member farmers admitted that their asparagus may not be very competitive against export-bound products from other parts of the country. Given top qualities, the asparagus may secure relatively high prices in the export markets, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Middle East, Malaysia and Singapore.
In the face of the world pandemic situation, Thailand’s canned asparagus has secured more than 15 million dollars in export value, accounting for an over 30 percent increase in a year.
The asparagus may not only be put in cans but be supplied in packages as a frozen vegetable to maintain its freshness and crispiness for shipment aboard seagoing vessels to faraway destinations such as Japan and South Korea.
Bundles of asparagus grown in Thailand. Photos: Sanook.com
Also read: From cassava to Okinawa Purple