Thailand’s hi-tech food future: Government pledges to step up transformation of food and agri sector

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Thai government has pledged to pick up the pace of its nationwide digital transformation plans for the local agrifood sector. ©Getty Images
The Thai government has pledged to pick up the pace of its nationwide digital transformation plans for the local agrifood sector. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Thailand, Technology, agrifood

The Thai government has pledged to pick up the pace of its nationwide digital transformation plans for the local food and agriculture industry this year, with a major focus on big data, smart agriculture, e-commerce and agribusiness improvement.

Thailand has placed increased focus on the digitalisation of its food and agriculture supply chain over the past several years, particularly since the introduction of the national Thailand 4.0 and 20-year National Strategy frameworks.

As far back as 2020, work was underway to develop a national traceability system for the entire agrifood supply chain, starting with local organic foods. Dubbed TraceThai​, the government had highlighted agrifood as a key priority for traceability due to the sector making up at least 30% of the local workforce, thus playing a vital role in the economy.

Fast forward to 2022, things have progressed and four major subcommittees have now been formed within the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) as part of this transformation, which individually focus on Big Data and Gov Tech, Smart Agriculture, E-Commerce and Agribusiness – all four focus on improving the agrifood sector with the use of technology, innovation and marketing.

“MOAC is collaborating with Agritech and Innovation Centres (AICs) in 77 provinces across Thailand to transfer over 700 technological innovations to over 8,500 producers in these regions, as well as linking up our database with the National Farmers’ Council to provide better information and services,” ​MAOC Advisor to the Minister as Chairman of the Agricultural Technology 4.0 Policy Driving Committee Alongkorn Phonbutr said in a March 2022 committee briefing.

“In addition, we are accelerating the completion of Thailand’s National Single Window (NSW) – at present out of the total 55 NSW-linked services, 38 have been completed and the remaining 17 are in the process of optimisation and improvement to ensure the system rollout is smoothly completed.”

The Thailand NSW is a digital trade platform that is part of a regional ASEAN Agreement to establish and implement the ASEAN Single Window. Major objectives are to enhance regional and international trade by facilitating, reducing time needed and costs needed for transactions, and improving the operations and services of the relevant government agencies.

“The agrifood industry has made good progress for technological and digital transformation under [MOAC Minister] Dr Chalermchai Srion in terms of upgrading Thailand’s competitiveness and increasing income throughout the value chain,”​ Alongkorn said.

“Next is to continue to work on structural management and integrated digital systems, together with all sectors and provinces nationwide. [Our work is not complete yet] as we have to finish launch of the National Single Window and Digital Transformation under the ‘Five Chalermchai Strategies’ within this year.

“The priority is to focus on connecting all the systems [within this sector], whether it is applying the use of Big Data in agriculture, strategies to improve e-commerce marketing operations or other initiatives [along the supply chain], there must be maximum utilisation of resources and a transformation towards a sustainable agrifood system.”

Chalermchai’s vision for Thai agrifood sector

The MOAC minister’s guidelines for the industry, locally dubbed as the ‘Five Chalermchai Strategies’, is a forward-looking, technologically-driven set of strategic moves planned to transform the overall sector. These were first announced by Chalermchai in 2021

First of these is the idea that a production-led market strategy is crucial to lead the reform of the agricultural sector – and that a comprehensive business network covering online, offline, modern trade, and more need to be set up on a national scale.

Next is an Agricultural Technology 4.0 strategy, which will also implement the use of technology throughout the entire supply and value chain from production to sale; followed by a ‘3’S’ strategy of Safety, Security and Sustainability to ensure a stable food supply and food that is safe for consumption.

Fourth is the implementation of a modern agriculture-commercial model, where agrifood management is strategically integrated with all relevant sectors in order to ensure the best possible supply value chain; and lastly is a sustainable agriculture strategy developed in accordance with scientific research.

“These five strategies will be supported by 14 policy guidelines spanning across the entire agrifood value chain, from educating farmers to implementing technology on farms to promoting value-increasing processing for products to sustainable technology research, food product marketing and more,”​ said Chalermchai.

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