Caption: Thiraphong Chansiri, Thai Union's CEO, speaks with principals and teachers during school visits in Petchaburi and Prachuab Kirikhun.
People and Communities is an important pillar of Thai Union’s sustainability strategy, SeaChange®. The work the company undertakes in line with this pillar aims to improve the lives of those living and working in the regions in which Thai Union operates. Further, it often helps to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
One example of our community involvement in the Pracharat Project—a project coordinated by the Thai Government. For the past year, Thai Union has been actively involved in three programs with the project which aim to improve the lives of the local community, as well as boost the education standards of children from 30 schools in across the Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces where the company operates in Thailand.
The first program—the Basic Education and Human Capital Development Group (CONNEXT ED)—is a public-private sector project. The program develops a network of next-generation leaders from private companies who will learn and develop leadership skills through what is called the Action Learning Project, which includes knowledge sharing and strategic planning in academic development with school principals, teachers, local community leaders and students. This helps develop Thai students to be “good and smart students,” according to the program’s objective.
Thai Union—which is one of 12 companies providing advice and financial support for the program—has appointed 10 company volunteers with leadership potential to be “School Partners” responsible for supporting the 30 schools. This includes:
- Providing training development programs for school teachers across several topics, such as development programs for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teachers, English capability building for English teachers and Project Based Learning (PBL) curriculum design.
- Career enhancement activities to inspire students to continue studying through to higher levels.
- Enhancing the English language capabilities of students through online learning packages.
- Providing learning kits, and school materials such as math kits, science kits, Montessori learning materials, musical instruments and occupational equipment.
In 2018, Thai Union and the company’s volunteers continued to support these 30 schools as well as add 10 more schools.
Thiraphong Chansiri, Thai Union’s CEO, has had a hands-on role, which included visits to several of the schools involved to monitor their progress. (Learn more on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/connexted.th/videos/1817163134974313/).
“The people in the communities where Thai Union operates are an integral part of our success,” Chansiri said. “It’s about being good citizens and doing what we can to enhance the livelihoods of those around us.”
Separately, Thai Union has been actively involved in other project initiatives in Samut Sakhon, specifically one called the Pracharat Raksamakkee Samut Sakhon, which supports local businesses and helps put them on better commercial footing.
These projects help drive the Thai economy at a grassroots level, allowing small business operators to generate more income for the local community.
Thai Union’s involvement has been in three areas:
- Agriculture: Support for overcoming the pest problem associated with aromatic coconuts. To add value to agriculture products, Thai Union will expand support to other areas, including registration of Geographical Identity (GI), and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Additionally, the company has been working on a food safety program in hospitals by supporting vegetable organic farms which supply those products to hospitals in Samut Sakhon.
- Agriproduct processing: Thai Union proudly supports the development of handcrafted Benjarong porcelain in Samut Sakhon so these premium products can achieve higher value. There are also additional products in the pipeline, including spa salt, aloe vera juice and leather products.
- Community tourism: Supporting local communities that can be developed into tourism destinations in Samut Sakhon such as the Khok Kham-Pantai Norashing shrine, sea salt farm and foot spa, and a homestay at Don Kai Dee, where Benjarong is crafted.
Separately, Thai Union has been a participant in the Modern Agricultural Development Group, which aims to help aquaculture farmers improve their production by sharing expert knowledge on cultivation. Under this group, Thai Union subsidiary Thai Union Feedmill has worked with tilapia farmers in Prachin Buri province, providing information about polyculture farming such as the value of feeding white shrimp in the same pond as tilapia. As a result, the productivity of tilapia and white shrimp improved, culture time was reduced, and the farmers earned additional income of approximately THB 20,000 – THB 40,000 per crop from white shrimp.
Thai Union Feedmill saw sales volumes for fish feed increase because of the program, averaging 200 ton/year compared to 2015. The market price for tilapia decreased in 2018 to THB 40 per kilogram from THB 45 per kilogram a year earlier, resulting in the number of farmers joining the program falling slightly to 70 from 93, though this was still significantly higher than the 15 farmers who were involved in 2016.
Caption: Thiraphong Chansiri, Thai Union’s CEO, visits a pottery community at Don Kai Dee village, where Benjarong is crafted, in Samut Sakhon.