SDG10 at work: Khun Piya and the Supanburi tomatoes

These days, central Bangkok has more in common in with Manhattan, London, Tokyo and Singapore than it does with the farmlands just over the far side of its two international airports. Bangkok is the home of Thailand’s 1 percent crowd – those who hold more than 60 percent of the country’s wealth.

Overworked, underpaid and under-informed

The farmlands by contrast are the home of nearly half of the Thai population, from whom only 10 percent of the country’s GDP is generated. This so-called heartland is home to almost all of those who live below the country’s poverty line. Clearly, something is not working. Rural workers – farmers in particular – are overworked, underpaid and under-informed.

This is why one of the inequalities we are committed to reducing as part of Telenor Group’s and dtac’s commitment to UN Sustainable Development Goal 10 is the inequality between urban and rural Thailand. To increase their returns, they need more access to information crucial to successful farming, like crop prices, weather and climate advisories, harvesting factors, pest information and so on.

Dtac’s Smart Farmer programme is one such initiative with a laser focus on delivering this, and Khun Piya Kijprasong, a 30 year-old cherry tomato grower, is one such farmer who can speak to his experiences in the programme. We caught up with Khun Piya recently, and he spoke to us about why he left his job in the city to return to his farming roots and what he thinks will best reduce inequalities in his community.

Khun Piya’s Story

“I used to work in a factory near Bangkok for six years. After I was promoted to working in the offices, I felt bored and unconnected. I had to leave.

My wife and I graduated in agricultural studies, and my family owns a small plot of land in Supanburi, where they used to grow coriander, cucumber and eggplant. It was a place I always knew I would return to. So together, my wife and I left our home and jobs in Chonburi and decided to go back to the land and become farmers.

How dtac Smart Farmer has helped

We heard about the dtac Smart Farmer programme under the Department of Agriculture Extension. It featured IoT-based solutions to help farmers cultivate their land more precisely, efficiently and increase their crop yields. It also provided us start-up farmers with an online marketing training course.

The entire programme has helped me reduce costs of harvesting and increased my yield. Its educational components have helped me diversify my distribution channels to access more customers and I am more connected now than ever.

This programme helps make a difference in two ways. First, the information that it provides to an average farmer is critical. Having the right information about crops, prices, weather, moisture, pests is the heart of agriculture. Second, it empowers us with technology. Normally, the cost barrier for high-tech is huge, but this programme makes it accessible and easy for normal farmers to adopt.

For other farmers looking to succeed – take part in this programme. Set your goals realistically. You cannot farm without having some concrete, achievable goals. Do not follow other paths just because you were told it was traditional. Start small and grow from there. Find problems that your farm can help solve – and then solve them. This is why the dtac Smart Farmer programme is a valuable initiative in helping to reduce inequalities – it provides access to vital information that helps farmers solve problems.”