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Industry leaders discuss the various hindrances in their respective practices and how the advent of modern machinery could go a long way in helping them raise productivity, increase profits and reduce costs
Mechanisation is the way forward in agriculture, and the Asia Pacific belt is more than happy to embrace the latest in machinery innovations. However, leaders of various farming associations collectively feel Thailand lacks in access to efficient agricultural technology, which leads to added costs, high budgets, low productivity and unnecessary use of labour
At the upcoming SIMA ASEAN show, the introduction of agricultural innovation could spark the beginning of a new revolution in Thailand's farming history. At an industry forum put together by the organisers, titled The Innovation of Agriculture for Better Tomorrow, specialists in cane and sugar, agricultural machinery and livestock were invited to present their thoughts.
Somphon Rattanaphibal, deputy secretary general of Office of the Cane and Sugar Board; Narong Sakulsirirat, vice-president of Thai Machinery Association; Anuwat Ruthaiyanont, vice-president of Thai Tapioca Starch Association; Krailas Kiewthong, technical expert of Department of Livestock Development and moderator Dolmanus Gaje, president of Agricultural Mass Media Association of Thailand spoke about the importance of Thailand's economic crops such as cane, sugar, cassava and the need for the latest agricultural machinery to increase yields and reduce unnecessary costs.
While Thailand does use machinery for agricultural purposes, Sakulsirirat felt that there was a dire need for specialised machines such lathe and processing handlers. Therefore, companies that are showcasing at SIMA ASEAN such as Kubota, Kuhn and John Deere that already have a major presence in Thailand, could find a larger market potential.
The FAO has estimated that the need for sugar in the world will increase to eight million tonnes and the demand could present itself as a major opportunity for Thailand’s sugar industry. “We are trying to improve farm models that can use sugarcane and sugarcane harvesters, which will help reducing time and increasing productivity. It is our opportunity to develop machinery and innovative technology.”
Similarly, the cassava market too could benefit through the use of agricultural machinery. According to Ruthaiyanont, in order to manage sustainable cassava export, farmers have to scope out machinery that are suited to harvesting instead of manpower. This can help farmers harvest faster, use less worker and gain higher profits.
The livestock industry is also growing fast in Thailand. Napier grass for livestock as feed is gaining popularity in the country. While Thai machines can harvest around three tonnes per hour, German machines can harvest upto 50 tonnes per hour, said Kiewthong. There is a need to accelerate the development of more efficient technology and machinery, he added.
By introducing modern machinery, Thailand’s agribusiness could reach international standards very soon.