The most recent Forbes Thailand (March 2019) article on Suparatana Bencharongkul, daughter of Boonchai Bencharongkul, founder and chairman of Thailand mobile phone service provider, DTAC, demonstrates how she is realizing her father’s long time goals. Bencharongkul continues many of her father’s philanthropic endeavors, including art museums, rebuilding temples and scholarships for rural children. But her passion is empowering local Thai farmers with better productivity in order to improve their well being.
Bencharongkul is the Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Rakbankerd Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of her father’s Benchachinda Group. She is an agricultural technology pioneer in Thailand, leading a team of agriculture specialists who conduct tests, collate and analyse samples, and compile reports of the many factors that affect agricultural production. Using her unique telecommunications platform, these reports educate farmers, seed suppliers and more about the potential improvements that can enhance efficiency and increase the profitability of farm business.
Rakbankerd have been investing heavily in hi-tech agriculture, targeting clean and safe food production. Under Bencharongkul’s leadership, the company has helped produced thousands of agricultural products, including many types of vegetables, fruits and spices. Their investment in agriculture has helped improve the agricultural production model, support farmers who participate in its production chain with technology and help secure their businesses by linking end-users to their produce with stable prices.
With an increasingly limited amount of arable land to farm on, technology is going to be essential to help farmers increase the productivity of their operations. Companies like Bencharongkul’s Rakbankerd who are pushing technology forward in the food system stand to grow rapidly and become the new cornerstone of the industry.
Some of these technologies include: data capturing devices and sensors, data analysis software platforms using artificial intelligence and machine learning, biotechnology and gene-editing, robotics and automation, and novel farming systems such as indoor agriculture.
Bencharongkul has successfully pioneered the concept of merging modern technology and traditional farming skills together to improve many Thai farmers’ labour productivity and creating jobs, which has had enormous social significance.