Mitr Phol, PTT mull biotech
Major Thai companies are planning to start bioeconomy projects, expecting to create demand for value-added farm products by using advanced technology, says Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana.
He said Mitr Phol, the country's biggest sugar producer, and PTT Plc, Thailand's oil and gas conglomerate, have brainstormed with the ministry on coordinating development of factories to produce bio-based cosmetic products.
"They want to start with cosmetic products because it is a fast-growing sector," Mr Uttama said. "After that, they could develop other bio-based industrial products."
These projects could help reduce expensive imports of some raw materials, he said.
Bioeconomy is a new industrial sector the government is promoting to add value to Thai farm products.
Mitr Phol plans to set up a factory to develop cosmetics from sugar and its byproducts, while PTT is interested in extracting fat from agriculture products to blend with its petroleum byproducts to create bioplastics, Mr Uttama said.
The ministry suggested the two spearhead factories in the Northeast, where there is plenty of sugar cane and other crops that could supply their demand, he said.
"The aim of our talks with Mitr Phol and PTT is to develop a bioeconomy and the biochemical industry in other parts of the country beyond Map Ta Phut," Mr Uttama said.
He said the two companies are working on action plans and will get back to the ministry in a few months to see what kind of support is available. The projects will be implemented via the Pracha Rat initiative (People's State) partnership model.
"We want to see clear plans from the private sector before lending a hand," Mr Uttama said. "We want to be sure the bioeconomy will not lead to other problems such as biochemical industries that cause a sugar cane shortage."
To prevent crop shortages from supplying the bioeconomy, he said the Industry Ministry and companies need to work closely with the Agriculture Ministry to conduct agricultural zoning.