Doi Chaang is based in the mountains of northern Thailand. The majority of the farms in this area grew opium until a scheme spearheaded by King Bhumibol Adulyadej provided funding for farmers to switch to growing coffee in a bid to protect the land which was being destroyed by intensive agriculture. Until then the peaceful Akha tribe found it harder and harder to survive and many were forced to turn to opium production. Communities started to break down and the future looked bleak. At first the coffee growers were offered a low price, but then Wicha Promyong saw a way to maintain the tribe’s moral and social beliefs while increasing the profitability of their coffee.
The small scale farmers joined together to form a company responsible for 100% of the production of the coffee, and joined forces with a Canadian businessman who formed the Doi Chaang Coffee Company (DCCC) who took responsibility for marketing and distributing the coffee. Normally coffee producers would sell the coffee to a distributor for a small price and the distributor makes most of the money. However the DCCC gave the coffee growers a 50% stake in the distribution company too, so now the growers receive a further payout from the sale of their coffee. Their model is described as Beyond Fair Trade as they offer a price higher than that offered by Fair Trade. This has resulted in significant investment in the Thailand coffee growers’ community and they are fully self-sufficient.
Doi Chaang is a wonderful example of how businesses can work collaboratively for a better outcome for all, rather than the current exploitative capitalist model which dominants much of coffee and farming.