Thai rice and varieties are important in the same light of arts and culture, tradition and custom because Thai rice has been in Thailand for long period and has been selected and created by Thai ancestors. Thai people grow local rice varieties because of their preference therefore they select rice varieties with good and delicious taste. In addition, local rice varieties also reflect the way of life and culture of local people and some of them also contain nutritional value that is higher than general rice varieties. Genetic diversity of local rice varieties has enabled Thai rice to adjust for surviving from past to present, i.e., genes for enduring with diseases, draught, salted soil, or flood. These genetic characteristics are important for developing Thai rice ecotypes.
Southern part of Thailand is considered as a region with various varieties of “local rice”. With changes of economic condition and current society, rice plantation areas in southern part of Thailand or even the number of farmers are reducing that may affect to existence of local rice varieties. Phatthalung Rice Seed Center collects 162 varieties of local rice of the southern part of Thailand. However, more local rice varieties can be found in this area over than such number. Moreover, many varieties of southern local rice are also certified by Rice Department as the local rice variety of provinces, for example, Si Boo Gan Tang rice of Narathiwat Province, Ma Ja Nu rice of Pattani Province, Moa-Roe rice of Yala Province, or Look Pla rice and Chor Khing rice of Songkhla Province.
On September 14th, 2020, the Committee for Rice Variety Certification, Rice Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives had the resolution to certify two new rice ecotypes including Ma Ja Nu rice, PTNC99012-69, from Pattani Rice Research Center that is certified under the name of “Ma Ja Nu 69”. This rice variety meets with preference on rice consumption of Thai-Muslim people who prefer eating with their hands. It is recommended to be grown in 3 southern border provinces including Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. Another rice variety is Al Hum Du Lilla 4 rice that meets with consumption taste of Thai-Mulsim people in Satun Province and surrounding provinces.
Certification of provincial rice variety is the context of the operation of Quick Win Project in southern border provinces that is integration among Rice Department, Pattani Rice Research Center, internal agencies of Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and other related agencies in the area of 3 southern border provinces including Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat plus with 4 districts of Songkhla Province (Jana, Tepa, Natawee, and Saba Yoi Distric). Therefore, Rice Department has operated the agricultural occupation promotion project in southern border provinces from 2010 by emphasizing on restoring abandoned rice fields with appropriateness on rice growing, value adding of southern local rice varieties growing, and improvement of efficiency of local rice.
The operations consist of 3 major activities including: 1) restoration of abandoned rice fields for growing rice; 2) promotion of production of local rice varieties; 3) improvement of efficiency of rice production zoning with sponsorship on factors and production, especially good quality rice seeds as demanded by farmers who participate in the project. This project will pass on knowledge on rice production and promote assembly of farmers to use technology in order to reduce the cost of rice production for increasing income and conserving local rice varieties. This project also supports farmers to have rice process and value adding of rice products in various forms as well as builds food security for farmers in southern border provinces sustainably.