Smart Farmer Awards unveils Thailand’s agricultural trends

Dec 7, 2017 – Smart Farmer Awards has released the results of its analysis of 10 contestants entered for the contest this year to establish key trends of agriculture in Thailand.

Data-driven farming, renewable energy and bio-pesticides are the factors taken into account by Smart Farmer Awards, a joint collaboration between the department of Agriculture Extension, Rak Ban Kerd foundation and dtac, in a bid to seek young talents in Thai agricultural industry. One third of Thai population is represented in agriculture.

“As a collection of this year’s contestants, Smart Farmer Awards show how technology and innovation are evolving in agriculture,” said Lars Norling, chief executive officer at Total Access Communication Plc.

Major trends highlights are:

  • Data-driven farming

The thoughtful use of big data to supplement on-farm precision agriculture. It means having the right farm data, at the right time, to make better decisions that reduce cost, raise products’ quality and improve long-term profitability.

  • Renewable energy

The use of renewable energy in farming systems includes generation of power to do a number of farm tasks: pumping water for irrigation, lighting farm buildings, powering processing operations etc. it reduces farmer’s vulnerability to the rising price of oil and related sources of energy. Renewable energy technologies play an important role all over the world to approach sustainable development.

  • Bio-pesticides

Following the growing environmental concerns over health safety, bio-pesticides are very effective in the agricultural pest control without causing serious harm to ecological chain or worsening environmental pollution, particularly in Thailand, where has a biological diversity. The development of biopesticides stimulates modernisation of agriculture and will, without doubt, gradually replace chemical pesticides.

Mr.Norling said Thai agriculture will be facing major disruptions in the next few years, driven by the advent of internet of things (IoT) and 5G, that will pose both positive and negative impact. Internet has affected several industries by digitizing their core business, including agriculture. The industrial revolution in agriculture strongly requires a preparation and adaptive ability in its workforce.

Over the past nine years, dtac has seen a significant development of Thai farmers, especially young age group. They have embraced information technology and internet to apply on their farm, resulting in effective management in agricultural ecosystem, which ranges from planning, cultivating, harvesting and sales. Interestingly, the use of modern technology and local wisdom was also applied.

Mr.Lars said from 3 key trends in agriculture, they share a common base of information technology and innovation in order to plan, collect and analyse data, harvest and distribute products. This is the game changer of Thai agriculture, especially skill and mindset of entrepreneurship of Thai smart farmers.

Panee Boonyaguakul, director of farmer development division, said the department’s mission is to transform traditional to smart farmers, focusing on technology adoption and management under its vision of stable farmers, prosperity agriculture and sustainable farming resources. This mission is in line with Agriculture and Cooperative ministry’s 20-year plan (2017-2036).

For the year 2018, its priority is to raise human resources and product quality in the sector towards the so-called Farming 4.0, which is the shift of economy from industrial to value-based. Farmers is expected to have more income and become a smart enterprise and high potential startup.

“Promoting and developing farmers under the national economic and social development plan of 12nd edition, it aims to promote individual farm production plan (IFPP) for Thai farmers in analysing, planning and standardising their products to another level. This will lead to a reasonable price, allowing farmers to gain better income, bring a sustainable agriculture and a happy life ultimately,” said Ms.Panee.

Boonchai Bencharongkul, chairman of Ruam Duay Chauy Kan Sam Nuek Rak Ban Kerd Foundatioin, said the 9th edition of Smart Farmer Awards is organised under the theme of integrated agriculture” by leveraging the use of technology in line with the government’s Thailand 4.0 initiative. The finalists of 10 farmers consist outstanding characteristics in creativity and managing skill across resources: land, labour, capital and market planning. Moreover, the mix between local wisdom and innovation was embraced to raise the bar of their products.

“In addition, they (the 10 finalists) are very professional in accessing to information and applying to farming management effectively, transforming traditional to smart plant growers. They use market-led thinking to create innovation and are ready to share with their peers. The Foundation is proud of them of being farmers with consumer-centric and eco-friendly consciousness,” said Mr.Boonchai

The winners list

Winner

Ms.Jirawan Khamsour, a cultivator of organic golden Cordyceps from Chiang Mai province, champions the awards by greatly showing her ability to use innovation and research in agricultural planning, covering a whole ecosystem from upstream to downstream. She differentiates traditional farming with market-led strategy, while traditional farmers struck with supply side.

Additionally, the PhD degree holder also brought what her possessed during her study to develop bio-fertilizer and create her own brand. Her product is traceable by using quick respond code (QR code), ensuring customers will get genuine products. She also joined forces with members in her community for wealth distribution.

First runner-up

Mr.Pichet Gunthawong, a melon grower from Chiang Rai province, chose to cultivate organic melons under the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standard. He also created his own brand under the name of Ozone Farm via Facebook fan page with the followers of more than 42,000 currently. He also plans to produce more processed melon products.

Second runner-up

Ms.Siriporn Tiengsantia, a rice berry grower from Supanburi. She is determined to revolutionise cultivating culture from heavy use of chemical fertiliser to organic farming, due to a serious harm of eating chemically fertilised rice. She embraced both local wisdom and modern technology on her rice farm in order to extend her product lifespan.

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