One of the oldest industries in the world, agriculture, has undergone much change in recent years. Farming methods, tools and products have all changed globally, and now, with the emergence of agritech startups in Southeast Asia, this region’s move from traditional farming to one supported by digital products, is on a fast track.
In recent years, the GDP from Thailand’s agricultural sector has continued to fall from a high of around 11.59% in 2011 to 2018‘s low of 8.12%. This trend will likely continue, but as farming and its derivatives are a significant part of the country’s economy, investment in the land and its management is still necessary.
During Q1 of 2020, Thailand’s economy was already on a downward trajectory, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this further. Additionally, Thai fruit farmers have been struggling to compete with foreign producers for many years, adding pressure to the already suffering sector.
With approximately 31.62% of the population employed in agriculture according to 2019 figures, and the country relying heavily on farmers to produce their food, finding a way to sustain and develop the sector is vital.
Unveiled in 2016, the Thailand 4.0 initiative aims to sow the seeds of economic stability and growth in the country. Its central tenets focus on growing industries, advancing technology and protecting the environment so that all citizens can have a better standard of living.
With the government committed to this roadmap to prosperity, an investment of $45 billion USD is in the works to create smart cities and improve infrastructure. These improvements include high-speed trains and digital technology parks to encourage the startup economy.
So how will this 4th industrial revolution impact agriculture? We take a look at how some agritech startups in Thailand are developing and changing the landscape of farming in their country.
Like many other agritech startups in Southeast Asia, EDEN Agritech focuses on making the world a better place by introducing more sustainable methods of farming. It achieves this by adding a non-chemical, edible layer to fresh produce to increase their shelf life and ensure the freshness of food.
This innovative product aims to eliminate food waste, a grave issue in today’s world and also helps better quality food supplies reach even remote areas still nutritionally intact.
In a region where chicken is an extremely popular protein, helping farmers to maximise their output and control their business with ease is sure to be a winner. And, this is precisely what Thai agritech startup CHIKCHIC does.
CHIKCHIC has developed technology to help farmers monitor and maintain their chicken houses by using malfunction alerts and controls that allow them to manage the temperature and other conditions. Another aspect of the company’s service is financial management. With software supporting productivity tracking and cost controls, chicken farmers have access to all the tools to run their business more efficiently at the touch of their finger.
When looking for workers, whether full-time or part-time contractors, farmers can download the Talad app and easily find the staff they need. They can find and contact mechanics to fix or maintain farm machinery as the app brings essential services to the farmer’s fingertips too.
Talad also recently developed its marketplace section to help farmers connect directly with their customers by uploading the products they have for sale. By making it easier for farmers to find staff, services and customers, Talad cuts costs with the removal of the middleman from recruitment and sales.
Launched in 2017, KoMoMi offers IoT-powered irrigation monitoring solutions to farmers in Thailand enabling them to divide large farm areas into different zones on the basis of topography, crop and soil type. KoMoMi also allows customised scheduling and control over the water supply for different zones based on requirements.
KoMoMi is helping revolutionise the agricultural landscape of Thailand by providing farmers with a digital irrigation ecosystem.
Another agritech startup in Thailand working towards eradicating poverty is Ricult. Using technology to assist farmers with production through intelligent pesticides, pest and weather alerts, and soil analysis, Ricult also helps to cut out the middleman and lets farmers sell directly to the consumer.
Combining the agritech sector with fintech, Ricult offers small loans and easy payment schedules tied in with the farmer’s crop rotation to help with expansion or diversification.
As the region continues to grow and develop, agritech startups in Southeast Asia are changing the landscape of this sector. Using blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital platforms to connect people in the farming industry, a very traditional activity is modernising for a digital society. Smart tools, farming fintech, supply chain networks and data collation systems are taking agritech in Southeast Asia to a new level, and Thailand is very much on board this agricultural revolution. The future for agritech startups in Thailand is bright.