Since October 2014, the Innovation and Technology Assistance Program (ITAP) of NSTDA and the Board of Trade of Thailand have jointly implemented a capacity building program for SMEs, cooperatives and community enterprises to improve the quality of fruit and vegetable to meet agricultural standards – such as Thai Good Agricultural Practices (ThaiGAP), global GAP and organic agriculture standards - and practice sustainable agriculture. The program introduces growers to technologies and innovations to facilitate the transformation from traditional agriculture to modern agriculture, or Agriculture 4.0. Under this program, growers and SMEs, including cooperatives and community enterprises, receive technical and financial support from ITAP to enable them to comply with requirements of ThaiGAP. ITAP experts are drawn from Agricultural Standard Research and Development Institute and Faculty of Agriculture, Kasetsart University.
The program has enabled 80 growers/SMEs to obtain ThaiGAP certification covering over 70 fruits and vegetables, including melon, papaya, coconut, cantaloupe, watermelon, banana, durian, mangosteen, rambutan, chili and tomato. Two growers saw their annual revenue rise by six folds, exceeding 100 million THB/year. Outlets of these products include well-known supermarket chains and hypermarkets such as Makro, Tops, Tesco Lotus, CP ALL and Big C.
Suan Taweesup Food Company Limited is one of the SMEs participating in the program. Suan Taweesup Food operates a fruit orchard, growing varieties of fruits including durian, orange, dragon fruit and mangosteen. The company recently obtained ThaiGAP certification for its 16-ha orchard. ThaiGAP certification provides assurance that agricultural products are safe for consumption by taking into account the environment, worker’s health, safety and welfare.
In addition, the company received a grant from ITAP-NSTDA to implement Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). ITAP sponsored experts from Prince of Songkla University and King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang Prince of Chumphon Campus to help the company develop vacuum freeze-drying technology and facility for processing durian, mangosteen, mango and pineapple. Vacuum freeze-drying is at the forefront of drying technology. It results in a premium-quality product, maintaining original taste and nutrients. This cutting-edge technology enables the company to add value to its agricultural produce, boost the quality of its processed products, ensure food safety to its consumers, expand its international markets and increase its revenue.