Private university in Thailand is accepting rice for tuition fees // Flickr

Students enrolled at Rangsit University in Bangkok’s northern suburbs can pay all or part of next semester’s costs with rice. The goal is to help farming families, and the university will put a higher-than-market value on the grain, since prices for some strains are near a decade low. The university’s step is part of wider efforts to help the 16 million Thais who depend on rice farming but are struggling to cover costs because of oversupply at home and in export markets.

So what?

The move shows the potential of organisations to redefine value systems in line with their own social impact mission. The university has a policy to support farmers, who are already looking to sell directly to buyers, rather than selling to mills — as indirect earnings aren’t sufficient to cover the production costs. Even better if their rice can be translated directly into the value they seek to purchase — such as education.

What else could rice and other commodities pay for directly, to empower farmers?

— By Anna Simpson // #signalspottedby Jiehui Kia

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This article was first published on the Futures Centre on 18 Jan 2017.

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