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Opportunities and constraints of organic agriculture in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand

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Abstract

The application of chemicals in conventional agriculture to increase productivity can result in environmental degradation, bring about economic problems and cause harmful effects on farmers, labourers and consumers. Responding to these problems, a number of nongovernmental organizations and government agencies have been promoting organic agriculture in the province of Chiang Mai in order to assure food safety and at the same time alleviate the poverty of farmers. The present study discusses the organic agriculture movement in Chiang Mai and compares organic agriculture with conventional agriculture in terms of yields, socio-economic considerations and human health aspects. The findings show that organic agriculture could generate significant benefits. However, constraints inherent to organic farming practices and other factors, including off-farm works and perceptions of organic agriculture, complicate the process of organic certification and standards, and to some extent weaken extension efforts in promoting organic agriculture. In order to improve organic farming, there is a need for all stakeholders, namely, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, consumers and farmer organizations, to work together.

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