Earlier this month I helped farmers in Baan Tiam (northern Thailand) crush bags of hoy cheri (golden apple snails). The crushed snails were mixed with rotten fruit, molasses and water to make a rich brew for the production of liquid fertiliser. This was a project promoted by the Land Development Department and supported with small grants from a number of different government agencies. As those who work in Thailand will know “projects” (krongkaan) are ubiquitous and genuine successes can be hard to find. But this struck me as a great initiative: even if the fertiliser itself was not a success the abundant harvest of snails (for which villagers were paid 2 baht per kilogram) was helping to reduce a scourge in the paddy fields. The snails were introduced into Thailand in the 1990s, probably via the aquarium trade, but have only been present in large numbers in Baan Tiam over the past three or four years. They eat through rice stems and, in large enough numbers, can cause significant damage. So, all strength to the liquid fertiliser project. On the day I was there the prize for collection went to Mrs Rungnapa with a stunning 112 kilograms of snails!

snail sellers snails