Small Scale Herb Farming in Thailand
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Jeff Nieuwenhuizen
Posted on: August 02, 2007

I am interested in doing some small scale herb growing however I live in Thailand. Can you recommend any texts or references etc that may be able to assist? I would be interested in growing both some local Thai herbs along with non natives such as echinacea etc.

Sorry for the delay in answering.

If you are planning to grow temperate zone herbs such as echinacea the tropics can present special challenges. In some cases these herbs do not thrive where there is no cool winter period. In some cases however adjustments can be made to mitigate the challenges and such herbs are being grown successfully commercially in the tropics. Unfortunately, there is no book that I am aware of that covers this topic specifically, and so you will need to experiment.

Perhaps the best single book for your purpose is "Herbal Harvest". This book covers all aspects of small scale commercial herb growing as well as after harvest processing. It was written for Australia which of course has a wide range of climatic zones, including semi-tropical, and so it most closely covers the your situation. The book is available from Richters at

http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?product=XB5060

As for local Thai herbs, there is no book I am aware of that covers commercial growing of these herbs. But, as many governments throughout the world have already done, your government may have put out publications on the culture and marketing of indigeneous herbs. That would be my first place to look. But be aware that often essential details needed to grow native crops is not written down and you may have to consult with the local growers for help.

I am assuming that you are planning to export your products. If so, you need to be very careful in your choice of crops. For example, why struggle to compete to grow a non-native crop like echinacea when it is grown so cheaply in the temperate zones? On the other hand, there may be some real treasures among the local herbs that are perhaps not so well known yet in the West. These may present ripe new export opportunities. Aided by the Internet, news about new herbs has never travelled faster, and new herbs enter into the Western marketplace so much more quickly than ever before. So if you discover a Thai herb that is already being grown (or wildcrafted) for local medicinal use and it shows a special advantage over herbs already on the market, you may be sitting on a golden opportunity. Gojiberry is a perfect example: it was almost unknown a decade ago and now it is pervasive throughout North American and European markets. Mind you in takes a lot of effort and patience to popularize a new herb, but the payoff can be astonishing. Gojiberry is a multimillion dollar phenomenon today.

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