On 21 June 2023, NSTDA Executive Vice President Dr. Chularat Tanprasert and BIOTEC Executive Director Dr. Wonnop Visessanguan attended the launch event of Regional Agriculture Innovation Network (RAIN) and officially joined a consortium of five organizations to support Thailand RAIN project. Funded by the US Department of Agriculture and implemented by Winrock International, RAIN facilitates adoption of climate-smart innovations to increase productivity, reduce environmental impact, and expand trade in Thailand and Southeast Asia through creation of a Climate Hub.
RAIN Chief of Party Mr. William Sparks announced that RAIN will enable 30,000 farmers to adopt climate-smart production practices by 2027, resulting in a 76,000-ton CO2 reduction. The project will focus on economic crops such as rice, cassava, longan, durian, coconut and mangosteen. It will also support an establishment of Regional Climate Hub, the first one outside the US, to showcase climate-smart production practices and research on climate-smart agriculture and forestry.
The launch event also saw the signing of an agreement between Winrock International and five organizations, namely NSTDA, the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA), CPS Agri Company Limited, Harmless Harvest Company Limited, and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
Dr. Chularat Tanprasert revealed various activities that NSTDA has been implementing and can contribute to RAIN project. Since 2004, BIOTEC-NSTDA in collaboration with Kasetsart University has been running Molecular Rice Breeding Program for the Mekong Region, employing a marker assisted selection technology in the rice breeding process. Implemented by BIOTEC-Kasetsart joint lab Rice Gene Discovery Unit, the program has partners in Thailand and neighboring countries, including Thailand’s Rice Department, Khon Kaen University, Ubon Ratchathani University, the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) of Myanmar and the National Agricultural and Forestry Institute (NAFRI) of Laos. With funding support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Kasetsart University, the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP), the program provided research-based training and MS and PhD scholarships to students and researchers in an effort to develop technological capacity of partner organizations in molecular rice breeding.
NSTDA cassava research program encompasses technologies in upstream (production of disease-free planting materials, diagnostic kits), midstream (resource-efficient processing technologies for cassava starch production), and downstream (bioplastics, upcycling of cassava by-products, cassava flour manufacturing process). Technologies and products developed from the research program include tissue culture and mini stem cutting technology for the production of disease-free planting materials, a rapid strip test for cassava mosaic virus, bioplastic cutlery, and wood-based panels made from cassava by-products. The production process of cassava flour from bitter cassava has already been transferred to Chorchaiwat Industry and Ubon Sunflower, resulting in the launch of gluten-free flour brands SAVA and Tasuko, respectively.
NECTEC-NSTDA has a team of 30 researchers developing technologies and innovations supporting smart farming. Examples include IoT-based sensor devices for farm monitoring and management and decision support system Agri-Map. Agri-Map is a platform that analyzes agricultural and related data including soil quality, water sources, weather to support plantation zoning.