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Organic Rice & Natural Dyes Internship 2016

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Stomping in the muddy rice fields, collecting natural dyes from plants in the wild, and journeying through pristine forests are all just a part of the International Internship Program 2016.

The Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage (MFLF) believes that the most effective learning method is through firsthand experiences. Therefore, the 8 weeks of internship started with a week-long orientation, where interns from renowned universities in Thailand and abroad travelled to several MFLF project sites including Puna, Pang Mahan, Chiang Rai and the Bangkok Head Office – to witness the application of the MFLF principles and the impact that the Foundation has on people’s lives.

This year’s internship is divided into two groups: Business Strategy for Organic Rice Social Enterprise and Natural Dye Textile Product Development.

The Natural Dye Textile Product Development team conducted a full-length process starting from collecting natural ingredients available in the Doi Tung forests to use as color dyes, consulting with the villagers on their talents and interests, all the way to researching market trends and creating product prototypes and a lookbook.

The interns were able to apply their existing skills and at the same time learn different techniques from the locals. They introduced products such as earrings, bags, timeless tie-dye scarf, shoes, and generated varieties by modifying the dyeing color’s intensity and constantly mixing and matching them. Additionally, they came up with their own ideas to use macadamia kernels and shells in their designs, resulting in an environmental-friendly unique pattern and also implementing zero waste practice.

Moreover, to ensure the continuity of the quality of the products and designs, Doi Tung villagers were trained on the techniques and skills. Participants of this team also got the opportunity to showcase their products at the DoiTung lifestyle shop, the Doi Tung Development Project, at the end of the internship.

The Business Strategy for Organic Rice Social Enterprise team began their journey by meeting with the MFLF cooperative organic farmers. In order to understand the farmers and their needs, the interns paced through the paddy fields in Phayao province. With the help from the farmers, they learned the different types of rice and the process of planting organic rice starting all the way from the importance of naturally-fertilized soil.

Moreover, the interns broaden their communications skills by working with different departments such as the marketing team, the business strategy team, the field team, and the knowledge management team. With the support from the MFLF officers, the interns were able to set pricing for the four types of organic rice that they chose, which are in line with the market demand as well as within the quality standard. They also opened a booth at the SME Expo Spring Up Thailand where the Deputy CEO M.L. Dispanadda Diskul addressed the topic on “Sustainable Consumption Reform the Next Growth” and 98 kgs of HELLO organic rice were sold. Through the team’s survey research, they have planned future booths as well as external retailing methods.

The program ended with the teams' final presentations attended by the Foundation’s CEO, Deputy CEO, Directors, and the MFLF officers.  M.L. Dispanadda commented, “We hope that internship with Doi Tung will always be a two-way learning process. We have some questions that we hope you can help us with and at the same time learn from what we have to offer.”

The participants of the internship have left their mark not only through the improvement of their projects, but also in the hearts of the Doi Tung communities.