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Thai strawberry entrepreneur bridges urban-rural divide

Enterprising spirit and passion for healthy food make for a rural success story

Walaiporn Phumirat with one of the scarecrows she makes for her strawberry plantation in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand (Photo by William Mellor)

For a young Thai with a university degree, fluent English and work experience in the U.S., Walaiporn Phumirat made an unlikely career choice. While many of her former classmates were competing for city jobs, she returned to her rustic village in Chiang Rai Province, in the once-notorious Golden Triangle, and became an organic strawberry farmer.

In the five years since then, Walaiporn, 32, has become a one-person rural success story, deftly using social media (she has 20,000 Facebook followers) and much-improved airline connections to establish a growing market for her Backyard Strawberry brand in Bangkok, 800km to the south.

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