Prayut touts 'Thailand 4.0' for farmers
Great chance to boost life quality, PM says
Thailand 4.0 is a great opportunity for labourers and farmers to develop and improve their career paths to obtain higher incomes and a better quality of life, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says.
The government's concept of Thailand 4.0 illustrates its efforts to explore the usage of science, technology and innovation to boost the country's economy, focusing on industrial and agricultural sectors, medical technology and public health, together with the global trend for a robotics industry, he said.
Gen Prayut said 14 million Thais aged over 18 are expected to register as low income earners. Those earn less than 100,000 baht a year and most of them work as farmers and labourers. He said the government needs to design appropriate assistance to help them.
"We have been in the middle-income trap for over three decades and it is moving nowhere. It is the right time for all sectors, especially the farming sector, to change and adapt to the world's fast-changing trends. Increasing incomes will reduce the financial gap in society," he said.
Prime Minister Prayut yesterday delivered his speech on the subject of "Mobilising Thailand 4.0: Agriculture, Food and Biotechnology", organised by Kasetsart University, one of Thailand's leading universities in the field of agriculture.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is the key to helping farmers learn how to adapt by changing traditional ways of farming to technology-led cultivation through more than 2,000 learning centres countrywide and that farmers should have proper plantations in line with soil quality and geographic locations suggested by the "Agri-Map" developed by the ministry.
The Agri-Map project came about in a bid to respond to the government's policy to curb the increasing number of rice plantations as they cause prices to decrease and consume large volumes of water.
It reveals farmers are living in a cycle of debt due to the high cost of rice plantations.
The ministry has been working to promote a change of farming patterns by upgrading farmers to "smart farmers" who can use technology for their plantations and sell products on the market for better prices, Gen Prayut said.
Despite government efforts to limit the numbers of rice plantations, the amount of paddy during the dry season rose to 3.3 million rai, which is well beyond the target of 1.1 million rai. This puts farmers at risk of losses if there are water shortages, Gen Prayut said.
Gen Prayut said Thailand 4.0 will not leave anyone behind as "all walks of life go together", but people must learn and adapt to live with technology and make use of it.
Labourers must not be replaced by robots, but they should develop labour skills with the ability to speak foreign languages. No one wants to be an unskilled labourer forever, he said.
They all need to adapt and develop to be "smart people".
He insisted the government will not increase the budget for science and technology research.
He said the country needs money to develop other fields. Instead, tax incentives will be given to companies that help the country develop science and technology.
Local researchers will get more benefits by conducting research bought by companies to develop products.