Thursday, 24 August 2017
PM Prayut charming Isaan - and Yasothon rice for UK High St?
One can't fault PM Prayut in his efforts to build political bridges in Isaan this week ahead of Friday's Yingluck rice court case, with his innovative mobile Cabinet meeting, Korat rail link revisions and even kissing a frog. That apt too given Princess Sirivannavari winning a silver medal on her horse Prince Charming in the SEA Games.
As an aside, with Thailand's Carabao Cup renaming the UK League Cup, and Everton with long-time sponsor Chang's Wayne Rooney retiring from international football surely the SEA Games and Asian Games should feature on UK television, and even with Sport England display sports? It's exactly the sort of sporting event that Channel Four built its reputation on.
And what a fascinating video interview with Khun Boontham the dynamic Governor of Yasothon - the Terry McAuliffe of Isaan? - Virginia's Governor also boosting cereals with his breakfast clubs, while damping down the Charlottesville furore.
Khun Boontham going the extra mile in his sterling efforts to boost organic rice in his province. Over 140,000 rai/acres of organic rice already planted.
And Khun Kobkarn, Sports and Tourism Minister, also now effectively Rice Minister - fresh from walking the fields of the Royal Doitung projects, and boosting women's tourism to ASEAN - is not afraid to get some Isaan mud between her toes, or swapping her Jimmy Choo’s for Wellington boots to help plant Yasothon's organic rice crop.
And interesting the efforts in Yasothon (why rebrand the province rice as Yaso though?) to pull together groups of supermarket buyers to get a first-hand taste of the potential for local sourcing and organic foods. With the Whole Foods and Amazon merger going ahead at pace, surely there's a wider opportunity for better food faster And food as a health tool.
With UK's Tesco Lotus offshoot and Netherland's Makro wholesalers already in Thailand, and retail giants such as Walmart ASda key presence on the UK High St and malls, an extensive ground-up strategy for Thai produce must be brewing, if not already percolating through the market?
Certainly PM Prayut’s charm offensive heralds a brighter future for Isaan.