Siam Kubota Corporation teamed up with Green Spot Co and the Soybean and Rice Bran Oil Processor Association to encourage farmers to grow soybeans after harvesting rice.
The project, which is also supported by state agencies, aims to bring additional income to farmers and improve soil fertility while leaving land fallow after rice cultivation.
Planting more soybeans will help reduce imports. Thailand brings in about 2 million tonnes of seed and meal a year for a combined value of over 67 billion baht.
Siam Kubota senior executive vice-president Opart Dhanvarjor said the project was initially launched two years ago on 12,000 rai of fields in six provinces in the Northeast _ Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Surin and Buri Ram.
Most of the rice farms in the northeast, numbering 39 million rai, are poorly irrigated and can only produce one crop a year. A few of them are able to grow two crops a year.
In addition to the benefit of rotating crops to improve soil quality, soybeans need less water than rice.
Mr Opart said the project will expand to cover rice fields in Roi Et, Kalasin, Chaiyaphum and Nong Bua Lam Phu this year, with participating farmer groups rising to 25 from 13.
Farmers will receive training on how to grow soybeans and use agricultural machinery effectively to improve productivity. They can sell their output at a fair price to soybean milk producers Green Spot or the association to make cooking oil.
Thailand produces about 200,000 tonnes of soybeans a year.