1 December 2017
Thailand’s Smart Farmers policy could help to enhance quality of life and boost economy

 

smart farmers

As Thailand 4.0 gathers pace and we are constantly seeing highly encouraging forecasts for the economy in the country for the future, Thai residents appear to be also benefiting from the moves towards innovation in manufacturing. But one industry where you perhaps would not expect the focus of technology to be necessarily placed is in the farming sector.

The Skills needed in farming in the 21st century

There is a often a tendency to think of the farmer as an individual who carries out the most basic tasks in order to ensure our food reaches our dining tables. However, over the last twenty years, especially in the west, science has turned the fundamentals of the agricultural and farming world upside down. Now this sector is all about using the correct substances to protect agricultural assets and harnessing methods and procedures to maximise cost-efficiency. In this way, the farmer is no longer just a labourer. The farmer needs to be a businessman with a fine understanding of current technologies. He or she needs to be able to seek out the most effective resources in order to create a constant supply of quality produce (that meet health and safety standards expected in the 21st century).

Education is needed across the country

This may seem quite a leap for many farmers in Thailand. It may need the construction of new and relevant educational systems which are also accessible to workers in the agricultural business. Farmers will need to understand the need for the new innovations and be motivated to taking them on board. It is also true to say that the skills, talent and experiences needed to hone a successful business are probably not the same as the practical attributes needed for running a farm. As well as motivation there must be the innate skills too.

The fundamentals of Smart Farming

The revolution is already underway. At the helm of Thailand’s Smart Farming policy is the agriculture and co-operatives minister general Chatchai SariKulya who has great hopes for the progress of the project. While he still accepts there is a great deal of work to be done, there is a strong focus on education.  The current goal is to educate 182,000 farmers. The hope is that smart Farming will catch on as a trend as other farmers become aware of how the new innovations and knowledge is creating greater profits and a better quality of lifestyle. The ultimate aim for the government is a financial one. Chatchai said “If our smart farming policy achieves its goal, we should be able to help farmers out of the middle-income trap within the next two decades.”1

smart farmers

Attracting young minds to the needs of the agricultural sector

There is a strong feeling that the role of “entrepreneurial farmer” or Smart Farmer will be especially interesting to the younger generation. It could well attract new innovative minds to the agricultural industry where before it may have been seen as a dead-end career. Young people who may have been brought up in a city environment and become familiar with IT tools could easily transfer their skills to the farming environment if they were also looking for a more rural setting. Also, younger generations could associate more with the agricultural industry by applying   their technology and IT skills to the needs of the Smart farmer.

Dercharut Sukkumnoed, a lecturer at Kasetsart University welcomed the new Smart Farmer policy. He said “We need to spend money on the development of such apps so that farmers have solid information to plan with. When the country’s agricultural sector is strong, domestic consumption will be robust, sustaining the Thai economy.”

Thailand’s economy continues to grow

Thailand 4 has facilitated huge changes in industry across the whole of the country and, whereas at times results have been mixed, the overall picture looks highly encouraging. According to the Business Mirror , in the third quarter of 2017 the Thai economy grew faster than economists forecast. And the great news is that after years of lagging behind its neighbours, Thailand’s economy is finally catching up with the economic boom in Southeast Asia, fuelled mainly by a global trade recovery.

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1https://business.inquirer.net/240696/smart-farmers-face-learning-curve