On 19 August 2018, Dr. Suvit Maesincee, Minister of Science and Technology, visited Thasae Cooperative in Chumphon province. NSTDA has been implementing four projects with Thasae Coop under the Innovation and Technology Assistance Program (ITAP) since 2017. On hand to welcome Minister Suvit were Dr. Thitapha Smitinont, NSTDA Executive Vice President, and president and members of Thasae Coop.

Thasae Coop is made up of local oil palm growers and operates a palm oil mill plant. It helps members gain leverage in the market and find solutions to the production problems, ranging from plantation management to processing and marketing.  The coop was faced with several problems, namely 1) low productivity caused by the significant loss in the palm fruit mashing step, 2) low efficiency in the biogas production unit due to large amount of solid content in the incoming wastewater, 3) low price due to poor quality control and substandard laboratory resulting in inconsistent product quality.

In 2017, ITAP started working with Thasae Coop to find solutions to the problems by employing science, technology and innovation. Experts and engineers have been provided through the projects to design an improvement on the machinery used in the fruit mashing step to minimize the loss of palm fruit and the oil clarification step to reduce the solid content in the wastewater.  The project also addresses the quality control problem by making an improvement on lab equipment and developing lab protocols for the testing lab in the factory. These projects are expected to complete in October this year.

ITAP is NSTDA’s main mechanism to provide technological assistance to Thai SMEs based on NSTDA’s vast resources. ITAP sends teams to the factory to study the nature of the problem, then sources out experts to develop solution and subsidizes the cost of the project. Since its inception, ITAP has assisted more than 1300 SMEs and implemented over 6,000 projects.