July 1, 2022

The Future of Thailand - “Paradigm Shift with Technology” for Agriculture

Thai Publica, an investigative media company for sustainable development, hosted a seminar on "The Future of Thailand'' last June 13, 2022. Various government and industry leaders participated in the event. Among them were Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput (Governor, Bank of Thailand), Sorawut Yoovidhya (Founder, TCP Group), Joe Horn-Phathanothai (CEO of Strategy 613), and Rassarin Chinnachodteeranun (CEO, ListenField Inc.).

Image 1: (From left to right) Dr. Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, Mr. Banyong pongpanich (Director of Kiatnakin Bank Public Company Limited), Mr. Joe Horn-Phathanothai, and Dr. Rassarin Chinnachodteeranun (CEO, ListenField Inc.)

In one of the special talks, called "Future Together", Dr. Chinnachodteeranun shared insights and perspectives on the future of farming. She worked with farmers for more than 10 years and realized that conventional farming is still the dominant food production practice. Indeed, Thailand is one of the world's top heavy users of agrochemicals, ranking fourth behind China, the USA, and Argentina [1]. The long-term overuse of and dependence on synthetic fertilization and pest control contributed to severe degradation and contamination of soils. For instance, in Suphanburi province, 200 soil samples showed extremely low soil qualities, a major reason why smallholder farmers were not able to hold up with the quality standards consumers demand. With climate change intensifying, their livelihoods are at even greater risk, threatening food security and the food supply chain as a whole.

Image 2: Dr. Rassarin presenting about farmers who inspired her to work on precision agricultural technology

Dr. Rassarin believes a radical paradigm shift in technology utilization is needed. At the core of this paradigm shift is a whole-systems approach to improving the productivity and sustainability of farming, where all stakeholders are involved. . Dr. Rassarin founded ListenField in 2017 with the goal of creating a collaborative digital ecosystem where farmers, buyers, distributors, and retailers work together toward enhancing the productivity and sustainability of food production. ListenField has created a platform that can collect, integrate, and analyze various data (e.g. crop cultivation, soil, weather, satellite) to generate actionable insights for all stakeholders in the food supply chain.  

ListenField offers a SaaS-based precision farm management platform that helps farmers predict crop yields based on historical and current weather conditions. The platform also utilizes satellite imaging technologies to monitor crop growth and performance. This platform has been fully operational since 2017, serving over 5000 hectares of land, and is being utilized by over 20K farmers from 10 different organizations. The majority of users are from Thailand. 

ListenField has also been engaging in data-driven breeding to support plant breeders develop improved crop varieties. The cloud-based solution makes large-scale predictive plant breeding analysis faster, easier, and more precise by utilizing genomic selection. For the development, we have been working with the Japanese government and top Japanese universities since 2017. ListenField and the University of Tokyo are planning a workshop in Thailand to promote and expand genomics-based breeding technologies in February 2023.

With these tools at hand, farmers and organizations are able to precisely identify field issues, and develop varieties that can sustain yields in subpar weather conditions. Now is the time for Thailand to heavily invest in technologies that “upgrade” how farmers and organizations are producing agricultural crops, in order to help regenerate our planet. 

Video: https://fb.watch/ediaQVFdDJ/

References

  1. Lee, S. (2021). In the era of climate change: Moving beyond conventional agriculture in Thailand. Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development, 18(1), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.37801/ajad2021.18.1.1
  2. Build Immunity for Thailand: Future Together The future of Thai farmers must be "Paradigm Shift". (n.d.). ThaiPublica. https://thaipublica.org/2022/06/thaipublica-12th-anniversary-future-together-2/?fbclid=IwAR1LUNwdR-HfFcjGOLqKc0EIHnIr7hA6-lljgaq68yzBwKuWLbIXONyWs_w

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