Thai farmers are on the precipice of a digital revolution, courtesy of the 1 Tambon 1 Digital (Chumchon Drone Jai) initiative. The program, which was unveiled in an exuberant launch ceremony on Monday, is a brainchild of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, and the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa). The union is seen as a marriage between grassroots understanding and top-tier technical expertise.
One might ask, what are the primary objectives of this high-profile project? For Prasert Boonchaisuk, the Minister at the helm, the mission is twofold. Firstly, the project aims to increase knowledge & understanding, arming communities and farmers across Thailand with the skills needed to navigate a digital landscape. Secondly, it hopes to streamline technical know-how on drones to simplify their maintenance and application in agriculture at the core level.
According to Prasert, the digital transformation introduced by Chumchon Drone Jai will ripple through community enterprises in the form of heightened income generation. With digital technology taking the helm of daily activities, adaptability to the digital economy era will follow close behind. Knowledge accessibility and exploitation lie at the project’s heart, resonating with the broader goal to escalate digital abilities and surge Thailand’s competitiveness as per the national blueprint for the Thai digital economy and society’s mobilization.
In addition to financial boons and competitive edge, security and safety concerns also find ample room. The narrative assigns grave importance to the safety implications of the digital economy and society while leveraging the project to magnify Thailand’s human capital.
How are drones financially accessible to farmers? At the helm of this initiative, Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, the CEO of Depa, finds a novel approach. By subsidizing drone costs by 60%, the project ensures high-tech assets are within budgetary reach of the common farmer, thereby democratizing technology. The remaining 40% is absorbed through a blend of low-interest loans from Depa’s partner network, such as Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, or through localized funding sources.
For communities where financial constraints impede loan applications, Depa entices applicators with tantalizing bait: a free drone, albeit based on an elevated demand for drone usage in a given area, exemplified by demands exceeding 4,000 rai (equivalent to 1,581.5 acres).
An exhaustive drone ecosystem has been fashioned out through the agency’s liaison with 25 networks, spanning Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, Civil Aviation Training Centre, Bank for Agriculture, Agricultural Cooperatives, Department of Agriculture, Defence Technology Institute, and drone operators present in the Thai landscape.
All said, the project is a celebration of synergy, with Depa cashing in around 200 million baht for drones, training provisions, and maintenance center setup initiatives. The first year alone, as per projections, is expected to trigger an economic value upwards of 350 million baht.
The appeal of the initiative has already beguiled about 100 communities who have eagerly forwarded their applications. The selection will be contingent on the project’s requirements, with applications closing as soon as the target of 500 communities is met.
With the “Growth Engine of Thailand” policy guiding operations, the project positions Thailand as an international adversary in the digital context. The Digital Economy and Society Ministry, looking forward, is eager to champion the digital economy and society, as the groundwork for escalating digital capabilities and fortifying Thailand’s competitiveness is laid.