Rebirth Rice is committed to gradual growth and a durable relationship with its rice growing farmers.
We pay directly to the farmer, steady, fair prices, year after year - more than twice the price for conventional white paddy rice. Additionally, we pay for modern harvesting tools, we share logistics and assist in the exchange of seeds.
Each farmer whom we partner with, practices following sustainable farming methods:
crop rotation (usually bean varieties during winter time, Dec-Feb)
decomposed organic matter as fertilizer (bat or cow dung)
pest control (mostly detection and isolation)
Monsoon rainwater harvesting
Note that we don't convert rice growers to go organic. Those we choose to work with, already have been doing so over several years and have the necessary skills. We offer access to a global market, try to build mutual trust, and only can hope other farmers will follow conscientiously.
We were lucky, early on, to be introduced to lung Detch, a wonderful miller, in his 70s. He guides us in our unfolding story, teaches us how to 'read' rice grains'. July 2018, Chiang Mai.
TRADITIONAL SEED SAVING
Seed saving is a 11,000 year old process, from back to the origins of agriculture when people took control over the food supply and the first grains were domesticated. Intact rice grains, distinct in flavor and texture, are selected from highest yielding plants. After dry season these seeds are sowed so the cycle can repeat itself while the rice cultivar becomes more defined.
About 50% of yearly seeds are selectes from the farmer's previous harvest, while the other half exists of seeds exchanged with rice growers at different sites. According to our farmers yields turn out better this way, and rice plants are less prone to disease.
The value of farmers saving and controlling their seeds, and therefore securing food supply, cannot be underestimated for several reasons:
The current situation among Thai rice farmers is that the majority relies on purchased, "generic", poor quality seed strains that lack flavor, are low-yielding and disease-prone, so farmers are forced to spray inorganic fertilizers and pesticides to improve crop performance. "Q logo", the most prominent Thai organic label, which is authorized by the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS), even allows some of those agrochemicals in its organic standards.
Seed saving guarantees a farmer's financial independence from seed corporations which supply patented strains, illegal to propagate.
Selection of strongest seeds adapted to their local ecosystem results in a healthy, nutritious, high yielding, premium grain while ensuring biodiversity and expanding the natural gene pool, which, of course, is of utmost importance for our future.
QUALITY CONTROL & LAB RESULTS
Every two years the Central Lab (Thailand) Co., Ltd. Chiang Mai Branch (ISO 17205 accredited) randomly analyzes each smallholder cluster on 59 common agrochemicals and Arsenic. Mercury and GMO we only do once. Results are sorted by Farming Reference and can be found further below this page.
Early 2019, the Office of Rice Inspection Committee, a Thai Foreign Trade Department agency one has to pass to export rice, introduced a grading program for pigmented rice and ever since, for each shipment, our rice has received 'prime quality' status, the highest qualification Thai pigmented rice can get. Grading results have become an essential part of the phytosanitary certificate, issued by the Thai Department of Agriculture and exchanged with the USDA APHIS in order to enter the US. Contact us anytime to get a copy of the certificate from the batch you got your rice from (mention the date you bought our rice and we track down the according certificate).
Last, we pack vacuum at our own FDA registered food facility in Chiang Mai. Vacuum packing is accepted by the USDA APHIS as an alternative to chemical fumigation (industry standard) usually required for overseas travels.
Phytosanitary certificate issued by the Thai Department of Agriculture, An essential element is the grading for pigmented rice, performed by the Thai Rice Inspection Committee, Each and every time our rice has been graded 'premium quality', Note that we don't chemically fumigated.
FARMING REFERENCE: WHERE OUR RICE GROWS
We love to show the connection between the rice we sell and the rice growing farmers.
The rice you eat, we would like to show you where and how it's grown. This is a work in progress, however we feel confident that gradually we can document and publish more profoundly.
How it works?
Each product is labeled with a FARMING REFERENCE: a number accompanied by a combination of letters.
For instance, 16PHR. PHR stands for Phrao while 16 represents crop year 2016 and 2017.
Just scroll down and it will become clear.
Note: All images and footage created by Dao and Alex.
PHRAO COOPERATIVE (20PHR, 18PHR, 16PHR)
This is the cooperative we partnered with in 2016, at the very start. This group of small scale farmers is based in Phrao, a valley surrounded by the mountains of Si Lanna National Park and is one of Chiang Mai's northern districts.
The cooperative tends to multiple plots of land and totals around 60 acres. Yearly (unmilled) rice yields go around 100-120 tonnes. Decisions on who is growing which rice variety are made within the group. Rotation crop choices are made independently and some farmers own a small orchard.
Your Heirloom Black Rice (khao hom nil) is grown in Phrao.
Harvest year 2020 / Crop year 2021
(Our Heirloom Black Rice, available February 2021 - January 2022)
Update August 20: some first photos and footage from last Sunday while transplanting a section of 20 days young seedlings. Text follows soon.
Harvest year 2018 / Crop year 2019
(Our Heirloom Black Rice, available February 2019 - January 2020)
All our Heirloom Black rice and Riceberry for 2019 has been grown by our cooperative in Phrao and was harvested November 2018. Besides khun Ton's rice, we added another smallholder in the group, khun Boonlert (around 25 tonnes of unmilled rice in total).
For a first we transplanted seedlings on dry land (after 3 weeks of growth in each rice grower's respective nursery). After 7 days some water was added.
Khun Boonlert is another rice grower in the cooperative who manages around 12 acres (2 neighbouring plots). Here some black rice seedlings on his larger plot about 4 days old. August 4, 2018.
Different transplant technique: after sowing and propagating in a nursery, we transplant on a dry field. On day 7 some water starts being added. Plants about 4 days old here. August, 4 2018.
3 months later and only 3 days left before harvesting. November 9, 2018.
At the end of rainy season, soil is dry, while rice plants lush and abundant, we yield around 1.7 tonnes of black rice per acre.
We seed on dry soil, during growth, precipitation and mountain water runoff will do, no additional water required (highly sensitive to global warming, the Tibetan plateau has caused stronger Monsoon winds and more rainfall over the last years).
Dao and Khun Boonlert inspecting rice grains. Walking around, you'll notice different types of flowers among the rice, ladybugs etc. All signs of a healthy ecosystem and the absence of inorganic pesticides. November. 2018
Heirloom Black Rice (khao hom nil; above) and Jasmine Black Rice (riceberry, below). At first not so easy to differentiate, but the former's grain is a bit rounder, and riceberry somehow slimmer and taller.
Short IG video: drying rice in the sun with Khun Boon Lerd from our cooperative and some villagers who grow organic brown rice (this is their rice) in Phrao.
Lab Results harvest year 2018 (crop year 2019)
AGROCHEMICAL analysis: to be measured September2019
ARSENIC analysis (PDF)
Harvest year 2019 / Crop year 2020
(our Heirloom Black Rice, available February 2020 - January 2021)
For 2020 all our Heirloom Black Rice is grown by one family only, khun Boonlert and his two sons (about 40 tonnes of unmilled rice in total).
Update February 17, 2020.
At the moment I am transcribing an interview we had with Boonlert last September about the methods he's been using over the last years; crop rotation, seed saving, transplantation, fertilizing and drainage. In May I'll do an update on this here in this section. Meanwhile I start uploading images. Come and check it out soon! Alex
August 27, 2019. Khun Boonlert's black rice nursery:. the last batch of khao hom nil seedlings (our heirloom black rice), 18 days old, Were transplanted 3 days later.. Note that the nursery soil is leveled (to about 4") in a wet bed.
August 27, 2019. Young transplanted khao hom nil rice plants (our heirloom black rice):. about 2.5 weeks old.
August 27, 2019. After transplantation, until day 20, water levels, as opposed to previous harvest year, are maintained (up to 2") in order to kill weed on the paddies. This weed is left untouched and functions as organic matter.
Phrao's nature is overwhelming, tucked away and under the radar of tourism. A valley surrounded by Si Lanna mountainous national park with its own micro-climate and a mostly agricultural district .
After day 20, no more water is actively added to the paddies.
Note the green leaves, this is what you need to see, When tip and sides turn white-yellow, chlorotic, that's a sign of nutrient deficiency.
Harvest year 2016 and 2017 / Crop year 2017 and 2018
(our Heirloom Black Rice and Riceberry, available February 2017 - December 2018)
Halfway 2016 we were introduced to khun Ton and the Phrao cooperative by lung Detch, our miller. Khun Ton is such a humble human being, a rice farmer from father to son, growing organic for about 10 years now. His rotation crop is soybean, he grows mango and a variety of greens which he sells and exchanges at the local market. His land totals 10 acres.
Besides our order, the cooperative's (brown and sticky) rice is mostly consumed within the local community and at one Buddhist center in Chiang Mai, with some sales on the domestic market.
For 2016 we sampled and bought a batch of about 2 tonnes of (milled) Heirloom Black Rice and Riceberry. In 2017 we ordered 6 tonnes of Heirloom Black Rice and 2 tonnes of Riceberry.
khun Ton and his storage of black rice seeds for harvest year 2017. February 2017, Phrao.
Our second visit to Phrao, on November 8, 2016. Since this was our first photo, it's sort of iconic for us.
Dao in the front, khun Ton in the middle, and the man in black, that's lung Detch, our miller.
This short 360° video (mobile phone, no color correction) shows the Phrao cooperative during Monsoon (the cooperative's total surface is around 60 acres).
Stunning scenery and one of our favourite regions in Northern Thailand. No factories, all agricultural surrounded by a mountainous nature park (Si Lanna National Park).
Due to its geography and microclimate, easily 1-2 degrees colder with some more rainfall too. Phrao, September 2017.
Lab Results harvest year 2016 and 2017
Our Heirloom Highland Black Glutinous Rice is grown by a Lisu tribe in Mae Hong Son province, at the border with Chiang Mai province.
A community with a handful of families, friendly, modest, still in line with nature. Environment is pristine (only reachable by 4WD), fresh air, mountain water. Living conditions are basic. We only visited them twice, and it didn't feel right to take photos at the time. Soon we hope.
In 2016 we bought about 50lbs to sample and analyze in the lab. Truly exceptional. We were able to get our hands on 1000lbs in 2017. For the future it's all highly unpredictable. Yields for this variety are low, weather conditions matter, and the family might choose to grow non-glutinous rice for personal use. For example, if some brown rice is in need locally, brown rice will be grown even if a decent profit can be made. We have to respect that
We have to evaluate year by year and be happy if we can source a few 1000lbs now and then. We'll give a heads up as soon as we can get our hands on another batch.
Harvest year 2016 and 2017
ARSENIC analysis (PDF)