Smart food cart to aid gastronomic tourism
Innovation to help vendors work smart
Researchers at the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NTSDA) have developed a smart food vending cart named the "Rak Lok Food Cart", in a bid to upgrade the reputation of Thai street food.
The Rak Lok Food Cart was unveiled on Friday by the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) at the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation.
The smart street food cart is packed with a host of special features such as a mini wastewater treatment system, a water sink, a kitchen hood, a refrigerator and two stoves. All items are built using light-weight materials.
The Rak Lok Food Cart -- which means "a food vending cart that can save the world environment" -- is a result of one of several action plans adopted by the government to use technology and innovation to promote and upgrade gastronomic tourism, according to Suvit Maesincee, minister of higher education, science, research and innovation.
"[The] government has set a goal to improve the reputation of street food as a high-quality product and service as well as ensure the food is safe to eat and convenient for vendors to cook. The quality and hygiene of street food can help elevate the gastronomy tourism sector in Thailand," Mr Suvit said at the opening launch on Friday.
There are 103,000 street food vendors plying their trade on pavements across the country, according to Mr Suvit.
According to the government's data, street vendors generated 270 billion baht revenue, based on data from 2017. Mr Suvit said the street food business is expected to grow by 6-7% annually, or even as much as 10% growth by 2030. Gastronomy plays a major role in attracting tourists, as a third of tourists visit the country for food, particularly street food which Thailand -- especially Bangkok -- is renowned for. Street food has been part of the daily life of Thais for a long time and about 76% of urban dwellers in Thailand regularly visit street food vendors.
The Rak Lok Food Cart comes in four models. The first prototype is a light-weight food cart with wastewater treatment system and a water sink, while the second also comes with a similar water sink, wastewater treatment system, plus a kitchen hood.
The third prototype adds two stoves powered by cooking gas and the fourth prototype is a mobile refrigerated food cart.
Narong Sirilertworakul, director-general of NSTDA, said the agency is working on the cart's pricing to make sure vendors can afford the innovation.
"The cart was not made only to improve the environment but also to enhance business competitiveness as it is designed to reduce physical fatigue to vendors.
"We also included features to minimise loss of materials thanks to refrigeration and a water management system so that vendors can save energy, time and cost," Mr Narong added.