Chanthaburi: A Trading Center for Organic Fruit and Top-Quality Gemstones (20/05/2011)
Chanthaburi province, on the Gulf of Thailand, has set a vision to become a trading center for organic fruits and one of the world’s most important processing and trading centers for top-quality gemstones.

Located about 245 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, Chanthaburi is rich in many tropical fruit varieties because of its fertile land and favorable climatic conditions. Fruit resources that make a name for the province include durian, rambutan, mangosteen, and zalacca.

Durian, in particular, is grown in abundance in Chanthaburi, which is known as the only province in Thailand, and in the world, where the majority of farmers are engaged in durian production. The full cycle of the durian business, ranging from growing to exporting, takes place in Chanthaburi, which holds fruit fairs each year to promote its fruit production and sales.

Like its neighboring provinces of Trat and Rayong, Chanthaburi is a popular area for agro-tourism, taking visitors to fruit orchards where they may consume an unlimited amount of fresh fruit and have an impressive experience in touch with nature.

In order to achieve its aim of developing quality agricultural products and safe food for both producers and consumers, Chanthaburi is paying great attention to organic agriculture and educating farmers on organic farming in response to royal initiatives that emphasize environmentally friendly practices. The province is the location of the Khung Kraben Bay Royal Development Study Center, which was established at the initiative of His Majesty the King. The center, whose focus inclines toward environmental conservation, researches the problems and the potential for rehabilitating and managing coastal resources and assists farmers in all kinds of cultivation to maintain an ecological balance, higher productivity, and long-term self-development.

The Director-General of the Cooperative Promotion Department, Mr. Somchai Charnnarongkul, in his inspection tour of Chanthaburi in early May 2011, said that this period is the season of fruit in eastern Thailand. An assessment of the volume of fruit in the market shows that because of this year’s variable weather, fruit crops have come out rather late. The Department has then prepared 200 million baht from the Cooperative Development Fund for cooperatives to borrow as revolving funds for buying produce from farmers in advance to solve the problem of fruit production.

Chanthaburi is not only one of Thailand’s largest fruit markets but also one of the largest gemstone trading hubs in this part of the world. It is famous for the fine craftsmanship of its jewelers, particularly their talent in setting each piece of jewelry by hand. The combination of the unique techniques and craftsmanship have made Thai gems and jewelry recognized worldwide.

The “Gems Street” on Si Chan Road in Chanthaburi is regarded as the largest gemstone market in Thailand. The Gem and Jewelry Center near the KP Grand Hotel is also a good place to buy quality gems and jewelry in Thailand, while the Gem Museum at the World Sapphire Building is an excellent place to observe gem cutting. Chanthaburi is a major source of rubies, particularly the “Siam Ruby”, which has three colors: “pigeon blood,” golden red, and red pink.

Thailand is one of the world’s top gem and jewelry exporters, and Chanthaburi is a famous source of gemstones in the country. Because of the shortage of raw materials now, Thailand has imported gemstones, mainly from Africa, for processing here. The Government has listed gem and jewelry manufacturing as an industry with great potential, which will receive a major boost. The gemstone and jewelry industry is among Thailand’s top foreign exchange earners, and it generates employment for 1.1 million people in Thailand. Out of this number, 75 percent are engaged in cottage industries in more than 20 provinces, such as Chanthaburi, Nong Bua Lamphu, Maha Sarakham, Sukhothai, and Nakhon Si Thammarat. The remaining 25 percent include workers in Bangkok and nearby provinces.

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