Thailand's farming sector is expected to steer towards tech adoption, referred to as Agricultural 2.0 and 3.0, over the next five years, driven by lower equipment costs and the government's support, according to the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa).
Agricultural 2.0 refers to the adoption of machinery, sensor equipment and digital tools for some activities and initial steps to use management systems to deal with e-commerce.
Agricultural 3.0 concerns the use of machinery equipped with sensors and digital equipment, coupled with specific software which can enable the collection and online transfer of data.
Agricultural 1.0 means labour-centric farming without the use of technology or digital tools.
Depa's 2021 survey on the use of digital technology in the farming sector shows the country is still in the Agricultural 1.0 and 2.0 stages.
According to the agency, more technologies are expected to be applied to all farming production stages in the next five years.
Kasititorn Pooparadai, senior executive vice-president of Depa, said the survey was conducted to assess the ability of farmers in applying digital technology and innovation for their farming and to gauge the country's adoption of digital technologies for various activities, such as sorting raw materials, production processes, customer relations and business management.
The survey covered two farmer groups, referred to as young smart farmers and smart farmers, to see how they applied technology to production.
Ratchanee Iemthanon, head of the Depa's Digital Intelligence Strategy and Policy Department, said the concentration of the use of technology falls into the level of Agricultural 1.0 and 2.0 in every production step.
Non-tech adopters are small-scale farmers who lack technology knowledge so they do not realise the importance of technology in farming, she said.
New generation farmers and those linked with contract farming are the groups who use technology, she noted.
According to Ms Ratchanee, the agriculture sector will see more adoption of digital technologies in production, supported by decreasing costs of related hardware.
The government also stands ready to raise awareness of the importance of technologies in farming among growers, which could steer the sector towards Agricultural 2.0 and 3.0 in the next five years, she said.
According to Preesan Rakwatin, acting executive vice-president of Depa, the agency stands ready to assist farmers in applying quality digital technologies developed by Depa-registered startups for their farming practices to level up efficiency, reduce expenses, increase productivity and boost income while pushing the sector towards Agriculture 4.0.
Agriculture 4.0 refers to the use of digital tech as a core for farming production.