Industry Ministry splashes out on tech and development

Industry Ministry splashes out on tech and development

The Industry Ministry is planning 1.9 billion baht in spending to help farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as part of a 10-billion-baht pandemic relief proposal submitted to the National Economic and Social Development Council.

The government's think tank is screening projects presented by state agencies before asking the cabinet to give the final say on July 7.

The 1.9-billion-baht scheme is aimed at supporting technology and machinery development and innovation, as well as keeping farmers and SME entrepreneurs abreast of business knowledge in their fields.

Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit said his ministry wants to help farmers by adding value to their products, as this will help the government boost the rural economy.

"We plan to develop the whole agricultural industry from upstream to downstream production," Mr Suriya said yesterday as he led an entourage to inspect a pilot project for modern agriculture in Chon Buri.

Dubbed the Ban Bueng Model, the project is intended to help farmers develop and differentiate their products. Farmers and villagers participating in the project are encouraged to invent new products, including cosmetics made from aloe vera.

Nattapol Rangsitpol, director-general of the Industrial Promotion Department, said the government plans to expand the modern agriculture project to help farmers in 80 communities countrywide.

They will eventually learn how to adopt technology to improve production capacity, better use management and marketing skills and become leaders in their hometowns, all of which are the ultimate goals of the Smart Farmer initiative, Mr Nattapol said.

The Industry Ministry is among the state agencies urged to draft proposals to bolster local economies under the government's 400-billion-baht plan for economic and social rehabilitation. The funding is part of the 1.9-trillion-baht relief package set up to cope with the coronavirus crisis's impact.

The ministry earlier proposed the establishment of a 5-billion-baht venture capital fund to finance entrepreneurs and increase liquidity for existing companies reeling from the pandemic.

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