Booking your trip

(+66) 2 713 0214

our emailaddress

contact@hilltribeorganics.com

Sustainability

Slider
Introduction

HTO is a high impact social enterprise dedicated to sustaining small hill tribe farming communities through organic and regenerative agriculture.

We are pleased to say that in the 9 years since we started, our farmers families have prospered and so has the Wawee Valley. Importantly, our hens are happy from the freedom, feed and caring we give them and they are laying amazing eggs. The land, water and air are cleaner. Women are empowered with work they can and like to do. The population is growing, children are being educated and some children who had left are coming back. And consumers are happy not only with the eggs but the biodegradable packaging and the traceability of every egg to the farm it came from.

Sustainability has always been central to our vision, along with alleviating poverty and setting new standards for animal welfare. We have always sought to meet and exceed the highest standards, to regularly audit our work to be sure we are doing the best, and to constantly challenge and improve our model.

The following notes share where we are today and highlight some of our future ambitions, a bar we plan to keep raising.

Improving Farmer Welfare

HTO

IMPROVING

FARMER WELFARE

  • A core goal at HTO’s outset was to sustain marginalized hill tribe farming communities. We had visited small farming villages often but over time we noticed that the average age of the farmers was rising. There was a point where there simply were no young farmers. The median age was 60 to 70 and rising. That was not sustainable. It was our wake up call.
  • The HTO model is set up to dramatically improve farmer family income provided they are prepared to put in the work required to maintain organic standards.
  • We give each family 700 hens and feed for free. Their obligation is to set up a hen house and farm enclosure, using natural materials they can source locally, according to our specifications. In most cases, this results in tripling family income within 3 months of starting. Importantly, families receive daily income, unlike any traditional farming model. This is life-changing for them. The only limit is demand. The more demand we have, the more farmers we can bring in to the program. We have a long waiting list of families.
http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Farmer-01-1000x1000.jpg
Improving Animal Welfare

HTO

IMPROVING

ANIMAL WELFARE

http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Hens-01-300x200.jpg
  • When we started we decided to set a new standard for animal welfare by doing both organic and free range eggs. At that time, there were not even cage free eggs in Thailand. We set a standard of 700 hens in an area of 2 Rai (0.8 Acres). This gives every hen more than 49 square feet of space, 25 times more than the US free range standard of 2 square feet per hen. US free range hens are also supposed to be able to go outside for 6 hours a day but at 2 square feet, where can they go?
    • Sadly, conventional US “battery farming” gives hens a mere 76 square inches of space (so HTO hens have 93 times more space) and no access to the outdoors. These vital providers of nutrition live wing to wing their entire short lives, doing nothing but lay eggs.
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Hens-02-300x200.jpg
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Hens-03-300x200.jpg
    • HTO gives our hens lots of room to run around and explore – and they love their freedom. We are now testing a pasture raised model (108 square feet per hen) where hens will have more than twice as much space as our current free range model and they must have fields where they can forage. This model will give our hens more than 207 times more space than battery farming. We have more learning to do but we love the idea of our hens having even more freedom and feeding off the land.
    • We also were advised by many seemingly expert sources that the productive life of hens is 85 weeks, since hens start laying fewer hens at that age. It wasn’t long before we started to challenge that. We found that our hens lay eggs productively far longer than that since they are happy. So we keep them much longer.
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Hens-04-300x200.jpg
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Turmeric-01-300x200.jpg
    • Of course, because we cannot use chemicals, pesticides and hormones, our hens are healthy during the dry season. But since we cannot use antibiotics, they tended to get sick during the rainy season just like people do. In the beginning, we treated sick hens with turmeric after they got sick. But then we thought why use turmeric only when the hens get sick? Let’s add it to their feed year round to help build their immune systems! So now we grow turmeric, along with corn and soy and add it to their daily feed. Now we are experimenting with other “health foods” to build the immunity of our hens.
    Feeding Sustainably

    HTO

    FEEDING

    SUSTAINABLY

    • HTO eggs are certified organic so everything we feed our hens is organic. And most of the key ingredients, like corn and turmeric, we grow ourselves. Our goal is to grow everything ourselves on our egg farms or on our feed farms in the Wawee Valley (Northern Thailand near the Myanmar border).
    • Recently, we decided to eliminate all industrially grown feed components and to source all of our ingredients locally. This results in our feed becoming vegan but, importantly, sustainably grown. Initially, this is more expensive but we believe that ultimately growing our own feed will be cheaper.
    • Additionally, we supplement the organic formula feed we give our hens with foraging food like high nutrient grasses.
    Improving Land Use

    HTO

    IMPROVING

    LAND USE

    • We situate our egg farms in the hills of the Wawee Valley. Usually our farms are relatively high up and on the sides of hills since this provides good air flow to our hen houses and farm areas.
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Farm-01-300x200.jpg
    • While our free range system gives a lot of land for each hen compared to conventional egg farming, it is a relatively small amount of land compared to most crop farming projects. In most cases, HTO farmers have moved away from unproductive farm projects that took much more land and earned them far less income. That frees up land for reforestation and also the wild plants that promote the birds, bees and butterflies (along with other animals) that we need for agriculture and a healthy environment.
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Hens-06-300x200.jpg
    • HTO eggs farms are also not farmed on cleared land. We specify farms with trees to provide shade for the hens along with branches on which to hand water feeders. And we plant “wild corridors” around the farms with wildflowers and grasses to attract bees and butterflies.
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Farm-02-300x200.jpg
    Protecting the Earth

    HTO

    PROTECTING

    THE EARTH

    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Hens-07-600x350.jpg

    Since HTO farms are all organic, we do not use the chemical fertilizers and pesticides that poison the earth. So the soil on our farms is clean. And this productive soil allows our farmers to easily grow key elements of our hens’ feed like turmeric and grasses in the areas around the perimeter of the farms.

    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Farmer-02-600x350.jpg

    Beyond the HTO farms themselves, the success of HTO carries well beyond our farms, inspiring and encouraging many other farmers to engage in organic farming.

    Protecting the Water
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Water-01-500x350.jpg

    HTO

    PROTECTING

    THE WATER

    • We situate our egg farms in the hills of the Wawee Valley. Usually our farms are relatively high up and on the sides of hills since this provides good air flow to our hen houses and farm areas.
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Air-01-500x350.jpg

    HTO

    PROTECTING

    THE AIR

    • We situate our egg farms in the hills of the Wawee Valley. Usually our farms are relatively high up and on the sides of hills since this provides good air flow to our hen houses and farm areas.
    Improving Farmer Family

    HTO

    IMPROVING

    FARMER FAMILY AND VILLAGE HEALTH

  • One of the early images that inspired us to start HTO was a video of a young mother with a baby strapped to her chest spraying pesticides on a field in the Wawee Valley, unaware of the potential damage to her baby. She was only trying to earn a living for her family and acceding to the sales pitch of pesticide companies that their products would improve her meagre income.
  • Happily, we have quantitative measures of the impact our organic agriculture. A 2016 study by the prestigious French Business School HEC documented that 57% of HTO farmers reported improvement in their health and hospital admissions by village residents declined 30%.
  • Of course, this benefit is not just for HTO farmers but for all the residents in their villages. So our farmers, the families and neighbour now understand that the benefit of HTO is not just financial.
  • Conserving Energy

    HTO

    CONSERVING

    ENERGY

    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Icon-01-130x130.png

    As with everything that we do, we consider energy conservation throughout of supply chain.

    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Icon-02-130x130.png

    We use the same truck to collect our eggs every day that we use to deliver the feed to our farmers. This allows us to maximize the use of our trucks and to conserve fuel.

    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Icon-03-130x130.png

    We source 80% of our feed from our own farms and prepare and pack the feed at our own feed mill so our transport costs are very low.

    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Icon-04-130x130.png

    Our packing house is located on the same site as our feed mill so we don’t have any excess transhipment cost or fuel waste.

    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Icon-05-130x130.png

    The lights in our hen houses are all solar powered.

    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Icon-06-130x130.png

    We continue to look at further ways to conserve energy.

    Protecting the Forests

    HTO

    PROTECTING

    THE FORESTS

    • Our HTO farming model makes use of hillside areas so we do not clear land for any of our operations. On the contrary, where our farms do not already have tree cover, we plant trees to provide it.

    • Furthermore, the attractiveness of the HTO model to our farmers means that they are not clearing other land for farming and total use of land for cleared fields has declined.

    HTO

    PROTECTING

    WILDLIFE

    • Since HTO does not clear land and includes trees on the farms and “wilding corridors” (where we grow wildflowers and other wild native plants) around the farms, we help to protect and nurture sustainable wildlife in our farm areas, from bees and butterflies to birds and other animals. We believe in our hens living in and benefiting from nature.

    Empowering Women
    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Woman-01-800x700.jpg

    HTO

    EMPOWERING

    WOMEN

    One of the most gratifying discoveries we had after starting HTO was to discover its positive impact on women. We had not thought about that when we began but we came to understand that HTO has provided great benefits to women. What women have discovered is that HTO gives them economic freedom with work that is not physically demanding and does not take them away from their family. Unlike conventional agriculture which often is quite far from home and physically taxing, HTO allows women to tend their hens while still caring for their children from the shelter that we build into our farm model. So now women have financial security that they never had before.

    HTO

    ENCOURAGING

    CHILD WELFARE AND EDUCATION

    One of the most gratifying discoveries we had after starting HTO was to discover its positive impact on women. We had not thought about that when we began but we came to understand that HTO has provided great benefits to women. What women have discovered is that HTO gives them economic freedom with work that is not physically demanding and does not take them away from their family. Unlike conventional agriculture which often is quite far from home and physically taxing, HTO allows women to tend their hens while still caring for their children from the shelter that we build into our farm model. So now women have financial security that they never had before.

    http://hilltribeorganics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Children-01-800x700.jpg

    Newsletter

    Sign up for our fresh Promotion & Recipe

    Logo
    Our hens are raised with love and care by hilltribe farmers in Nothern Thailand.
    X