During the AgriConnect Conference & Exhibition opening ceremony held at True Digital Park in Bangkok on May 24, a keynote speaker discussed the impact of climate change on many regions worldwide, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia. It was noted that the unsustainable use of resources only heightened the severity of climate change and that collaborative sustainable solutions must be sought.
The speaker emphasized the importance of practices such as precision farming, conservation tillage, and water management in achieving eco-efficiency. However, limited knowledge of emerging technologies and restricted access to novel techniques could impede progress, leading to inferior crop yields and decreased revenue.
Agriculture Vice Minister Narapat Kaeothong highlighted the importance of eco-efficiency in agriculture for environmental protection. It aims to produce more agricultural output in terms of quantity and quality while utilizing less input of land, water, nutrients, energy, and labor.
Karsten Ziebell, the team leader of the German Thai Cooperation Project, outlined the challenges in smart farming, including droughts, floods, financial access limitations, education, over-indebtedness, aging farmers, labor shortages, soil degradation, escalating costs, and small and fragmented plots of land. To unlock the potential in smart farming, Ziebell argued that cooperation between sectors, such as the government, finance, research, industry, farmers, product and service providers, is essential. In this way, farmers can adopt smart farming methods, cope with challenges, and seize opportunities.
Dares Kittiyopas, President of the Thai Society of Agricultural Engineering, revealed that Thailand has incorporated a smart farming research and development (R&D) roadmap into the 20-Year National Strategy. This plan aims to support climate change mitigation, balance agriculture for food and energy, and promote waste-free agriculture. The roadmap also focuses on applying technology and innovation related to smart farming, such as automation and intelligent sensors, satellite data in agriculture, farm tracking systems, and farm management data.
Thai farmers’ experiences with smart farming technologies also provided insight into the challenges and opportunities these innovations offer. These technologies can aid farmers in agriculture, boost crop output, and improve their quality of life. Dilok Pinyosri, a smart farmer in Chaiyaphum province, shared the difficulties he had faced in using a sugarcane harvester over the past 12 years, noting that it did not meet standards and was ill-suited for his plantation areas. However, he devised a plan to establish a group of cluster farmers to help them deal with labor shortages and make the most of agricultural technologies.
Pinyosri urged the government and agriculture-related agencies to promote the use of smart farming technologies. This would allow farmers to visit smart farms and learn from experts in the field while also providing access to funding. He added that if farmers could see the benefits of smart farming technologies, they would be more likely to adopt them in their agricultural practices. Overall, the ability to embrace smart farming technologies will play a significant role in mitigating the environmental impact of agriculture and overcoming the challenges associated with climate change.