Known for ChiaTai Seed, Charoen Pokphand Produce (maize), Charoen Pokphand Seed (rice)
Charoen Pokphand Group is a Thai conglomerate with business activities in seed, retail, telecommunication and media, e-commerce and digital, property development, plastics, automotive, finance and insurance, and pharmaceuticals. Its vegetable seed subsidiary, Chia Tai, in business since 1921, is the group’s founding company and is active in seed and agrochemical inputs. Chia Tai also provides equipment and technology to Thai farmers and supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to leading supermarkets, among other activities.
Plant breeding activities in index regions
Through its subsidiary ChiaTai, the company has its own breeding programmes in Thailand and India and develops hybrid varieties of vegetables, including global vegetables like watermelon, melon, cucumber and tomato, as well as the local crop amaranth. The company’s breeding programme includes the development of traits that are particularly important for smallholder farmers, such as resistance to biotic and abiotic stress. The company also focuses on incorporating resistance and tolerance to regionally important pests and diseases, such as tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV).
To divulge information and promote various types of agricultural inputs, Charoen Pokphand Group worked with the Crop Integration Business Group for Maize. They worked together to provide assistance in areas such as selecting high-quality seeds that were best suited to the local conditions, analysing soil nutrients to recommend appropriate fertilizer types, sowing/ploughing with machinery provided by farmer networks, and locating water sources for farming. The company had 42,245 farmers who participated in the project in the period 2018-2020.
The company engages with stakeholder groups, including farmers, business partners, communities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In engagement with farmers specifically, Charoen Pokphand Group raises issues such as capacity building and access to resources. The company has an opportunity to disclose its process for identifying its most relevant stakeholders and could develop an access to seeds strategy within which to integrate its stakeholder engagement activities.
The company provides limited insight into its position and activities related to genetic resources and intellectual property management. As it is important that seed companies contribute to genetic resources and intellectual property management that supports smallholder agriculture, the company could provide more insights into its activities for others to learn from.
Local participation in breeding/variety development
The company does not disclose whether it uses feedback from local consumers, traders and smallholder farmers to inform its breeding programme with, or whether it incorporates feedback from women farmers.
Charoen Pokphand Group has research and development stations in several areas within Thailand to research and test its plant varieties in different agroclimatic conditions. However, the company could provide greater disclosure on its testing activities and could consider extending these locations to other countries in the region where it is active, which would strengthen the local seed sector.
Seed production activities in index region
The company has seed production locations in India and Thailand. However, it has the opportunity to disclose evidence of whether it involves local players in its production activities.
Social and labour rights in seed production
The company identifies child labour and forced labour in its Human Rights and Labour Practices Policy and Guidelines. It discloses that it should arrange, support, sustain and continuously improve to provide a safe working environment and protect employees and relevant parties from health impacts. This is done in conjunction with protecting and minimizing environmental impacts resulting from company activities in accordance with the law. However, it has the opportunity to disclose evidence of how it monitors compliance in accordance with international social and labour standards. Furthermore, the company does not disclose whether it pays its workers a living wage or requires its intermediaries to do so.
Quality assurance and after-sales
Charoen Pokphand Group adheres to International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) protocols for safeguarding the quality and safety of seeds, and its subsidiary Chia Tai has an ISTA-accredited laboratory. Although the company provides a grievance channel to farmers for after-sales support, it can increase its disclosure on other aspects of quality management, including monitoring distribution channels and preventing the sale of expired or counterfeit seeds.
Packaging and labelling
The company could disclose more about its use of local languages and track and trace systems on seed packages, as well as whether it offers appropriate package sizes for smallholder farmers.
Information and communications technology (ICT) and access to output markets
The company has the opportunity to offer programmes to advance the use of ICT by smallholder farmers and to improve the access of smallholder farmers to output markets.