Update Tom Yum project

To promote human-elephant coexistence in Thailand, we support farmers to grow ingredients that are disliked by elephants, instead of mono-crops that impact biodiversity and attract elephants. The Tom Yum project helps to diversify local livelihoods, create employment for rural people, and protect the ecosystems on which we all depend. An update on the project: How are we doing at the end of 2021?

New products, new crop species and new elephant visitors – the team working on the Tom Yum project in Thailand has been learning and growing. We planted experimental crop species such as lemongrass, citronella, galangal, chilli and others in order to understand to what effect elephants would consume and/or damage these crops in comparison to pineapple, the highly-attractive cash crop commonly grown in this region. So far, we’re seeing little damage in the experimental plots, and from footprints, we have even observed elephants walking beside or around alternative crops such as lemongrass and citronella without causing any damage. A few weeks ago, a herd of nine elephants walked through one of the experimental plots, and no damage was recorded. They spent very little time in the plot, making their way to the neighboring pineapple plantation, so we believe that as the project grows, elephants will have less incentive to enter farmland, and if they do, farmers won’t experience such devastating financial losses as they did before.

Earlier this year, we launched Elephant & Co, an online store that sells handmade, elephant-friendly products made from the crop yield. We recently added to the range of soaps and candles with two blends of herbal tea and a dried tom yum soup set. The products are packed in biodegradable bags, and made with dried ingredients from the chemical-free Tom Yum project fields that the local community has managed since the start of the project. A big thanks goes to NIST International School in Bangkok and Fondation Ensemble for supporting the project with funds used to plant new experimental fields, organise workshops, purchase the dehydrators, packaging and first round of raw ingredients to kickstart this new range of products.
Due to Covid19 restrictions, we can’t ship products from Thailand at the moment. We do have an offer of our Sleep Well and Holistic Honey Soap which we can ship from the Netherlands. Your purchase of these unique products contributes to a better future of elephants and people!

The Tom Yum Tree Nursery is a community-run space where local people bring seeds of unpalatable crops, germinate them, and manage an organized system where seedlings are distributed throughout the village. The local nursery manager plans community events at the nursery, maintains seedlings, and tracks the number of crops distributed and

The Tom Yum project has created employment opportunities for local people in every stage of the project, from creating seedlings at the Tom Yum Tree Nursery, to planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting these crops, to creating, packaging and shipping the elephant-friendly products, and even collecting data on elephant behaviour and sharing research results with others in the community. We’re amazed at the innovation, creativity and passion that we’ve seen thus far in this community-based initiative, and we’re optimistic that elephants and farmers will continue to benefit from it in 2022.

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