SPIRULINA VOICES PRESENT
Founder & CEO • Boonsom Farm
video recorded via Zoom May 24, 2022
Summary: Jiamjit Boonsom is a plantologist who founded Boonsom Farm in Chiang Mai Thailand over 40 years ago with support from the Thai government, FAO and USAID. Boonsom Farm has grown to 80,000 m2 of pond area. Jiamjit emphasizes that spirulina is not only a health supplement, it is a food people can take everyday. Boonsom Farm has innovated dozens of spirulina food, beverage and even skin care products with both fresh and dried spirulina. For many years Jiamjit has hosted eco-tourism at Boonsom Farm, for people to come and visit, especially for students to learn about how to grow spirulina. Jiamjit hopes people all over the world will use spirulina as a daily food.
Q: I’m here with Jiamjit Boonsom, a good friend from over 10 years ago, when we visited Boonsom Farm. And you have been doing this for over 40 years and you have a wonderful array of products. So very happy to reconnect with you again.
Yes, I do too.
Q: How were you inspired to get involved in the very first time with algae?
I’m a plantologist. I work in water, so I found my spirulina in my sample. But at that time, around 1967, nobody knows about spirulina yet, except the European scientists that have investigated Africa and they found it at Lake Chad.
Our government want to find something that can grow in the arid land in the northeastern part of Thailand. Spirulina can grow in the saline water. So I submit the project to them. And I got support from FAO, from USAID, and later from our princess Sirindhorn.
Q: Now, how large is your Spirulina farm now?
80,000 square meters.
Q: Do you sell more of your product with your own brand in Thailand or export?
We do export to countries around ASEAN, and also to oversees like in America, in Europe.
Q: When you look back, what would you say were the biggest challenges that you faced?
The first thing is to prove that my technique can work in mass production. When we come to business, the first challenge is how to educate my workers to understand the hygienic way of producing. So I invite many public health people to come to educate them.
Q: You’ve developed an amazing array of products. And I tried some when I visited you in 2010. Now, do you have some interesting new products?
Now we try to educate people that spirulina is not only health food. It is the food that you can take it every day. We do ice cream. We do cookies.
From now on, we try to educate people that spirulina is food. We use fresh spirulina to make food.
Q: Do you sell fresh spirulina all by itself?
Yeah, it is very good. Really, really tasty.
Q: Well, I remember when we came to your farm, it was like algae tourism.
Video clip: How’s it feel on your face>. Feeks great
Q: Are you still doing that? Inviting the public to come and giving them a whole tour?
Yes, we opened that. We called it spirulina eco tour. But that stopped after COVID. So we just closed our farm.
Q: Will you reopen the farm for ecotourism?
Q: If you talk to students today, what would your advice be about getting involved with microalgae like spirulina?
Now there are more and more students interested in plantology. They have to love first. I love to look through my microscope to see really beautiful living things. You have to love them first, then you will take care. And also I’m able to teach people, come to my farm, to study how to grow spirulina. And I’m glad to teach them.
Q: When you look at spirulina globally, do you see it taking any direction over the next five years or so?
Now we try to produce frozen ones, fresh ones, powder ones. We like people over the world to use spirulina as daily food.
Whenever I have a chance to pray with my Buddhist abbott, I used to play pray that “please make people understand spirulina, make me able to produce spirulina for the whole world.”
Q: And what do you think is the major health benefit for people?
They will keep doctors bills away. Like me. I don’t have to pay doctor bills because at 81 years old, I still strong enough. Yes.
Q: It’s a pleasure to talk to you again. I want to thank you very much.
Jimajit Boonsom • Boonsom Farm • www.boonsomfarm.com • email@example.com