A vision for sustainable aquaculture
Jitti Intaracharoen, or “Ko Mhai”, has witnessed the economic devastation of his community on Koh Maphrao during the pandemic. As a Phuketian and chairman of the Koh Prao Mangrove Forest Community Enterprise Group ‒ part of the Small and Micro Community Enterprise (SMCE) self-reliance program ‒ he wanted to help his people have a sustainable income.
The group comprises 22 local community members who share a common lifestyle in aquaculture conservation on Koh Maphrao (Coconut Island), located off the east coast of Phuket.
Equipped with his background in Forest Science from Kasetsart University and Public Administration from the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), expertise in the field of aquaculture and brackish water aquatic animals , a business acumen recognized by the Office for the Promotion of SMEs (OSMEP), and the more than 50 years of experience of his family in marine aquatic farming, Ko Mhai decided to build a platform of the Phuket side of Koh Maphrao to sustainably cultivate marine animals. He named it Intara Farm and opened it in September 2020.
So far, Intara Farm is the only dark salmon farm in Phuket. It is built on a three-rai floating platform flanked by mangrove forests, designed for sustainable aquaculture in Sapam Bay, a five-minute long-tail boat ride from Laem Hin jetty. Intara Farm is more than just a sustainable aquaculture farm, it offers enriching leisure and learning activities, and also operates a farm-to-table seafood restaurant, where all fresh ingredients are sourced directly from the farm. .
New start, new hope
The pandemic has hit Phuket’s tourism and hospitality industry the hardest, crippling the economy and leaving thousands of people without a livelihood. Many local fishermen have been unable to sell their daily catch as many hotels and restaurants have been ordered to close indefinitely. The sudden influx of people entering the fishing and farming industry has only exacerbated the already saturated market.
In response, Ko Mhai bought the catches from local fishermen at standard market prices to avoid the collapse of the fish market and placed them on his farm to be preserved and farmed sustainably. He has implemented research-based methodologies that draw on nature as much as possible without using chemicals. He also applied mixed cropping for diversification when there is low market demand. This decision has generated income for many people in his community.
Intara Farm also wants to create a fun and educational ecotourism site where people can learn about sustainable aquaculture, explore the flora and surrounding mangrove forests, experience the lifestyle of the local community, participate in activities environmentally friendly social and leisure activities around the farm. , and also taste delicious fresh seafood in its restaurant.
Trace the path
Ko Mhai is a hands-on entrepreneur who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, literally and figuratively. He is always there, doing anything everywhere, so much so that you would never guess that he is the owner of the farm. Although he does not speak English very well, this does not prevent him from passionately sharing his vast knowledge of the flora and fauna in and around the farm, with the help of a local English-speaking guide. equally enthusiastic named Mayagraduated from the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism, Prince of Songkla University, Phuket Campus (PSU Phuket).
Visitors to Intara Farm can walk around the farm to see and feed all kinds of sea life, learn about a few aquatic animals and deep pearl culture, kayak along the nature trail, participate in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities such as beach collecting trash on coconut island and planting mangrove trees, make a tie-dye shirt using natural bark color mangroves, release aquatic animals into the sea and feast on some of the freshest seafood around.
Of course, with a stunning backdrop and charming architecture, Intara Farm is definitely Instagrammable. So if you want to have a wholesome ecotourism experience and support the local community, Intara Farm is the place for you.
By Milla Budiarto
NOTE: This article was featured in ‘The Phuket Collegiate Magazine‘, the college magazine published by Milla Budiarto at PSU Phuket. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PSU Phuket and its employees or official policies. For more information visit: https://www.phuket.psu.ac.th/en/magazine or email: [email protected]