Innovative Farmers: Cutting-Edge Future That Many Societies Not Culturally or Politically Ready For

The technology life-cycle, is often called the S-Curve, because technology, generally, start off as a plateau, sort of like the bottom of the S, then accelerate upward, sort of like the big middle part of the S, then another plateau, sort of like the top of the S.

So lots of discussion on when a new S-Curve occur. And the S-Curve, is used on all sort of issues, i.e relating to this article, agriculture method development.

But does the issue surrounding S-Curve, just about technology discovery and the maturity of that technology? Or are there other issues?

For example, in Thailand, the elected government of Yingluck, had a concept called “Smart Farmer” and the concept is to use high tech, to help farmers become more productive.

Apart from “Smart Farmer” Thailand also suffered bouts of serious flooding, & Yingluck envisioned, a “Water Management System” with massive investment in infrastructure, for “Dual Use” for flood water management and water to supply farms, with this investments, also included massive high-tech utilization, i.e. internet linked video camera to watch the water all over Thailand & small, high-tech, internet linked, weather stations.

But for about the past 80 years, on average there is a coup or attempted coup, every 3 years & a new constitution every 4 years. So in sum, there is a great deal of policy changes & also changers in governing rules, with a great deal of instability.

And with that Thailand environment, the “Smart Farmer” concept was discontinued. So indeed, the S-Curve, is more than technological life cycle, but about the societal environment, at large.

1)

Technology Life Cycle:

The technology life-cycle (TLC) describes the commercial gain of a product through the expense of research and development phase, and the financial return during its “vital life.”Some technologies, such as steel, paper or cement manufacturing, have a long lifespan (with minor variations in technology incorporated with time) whilst in other cases, such as electronic or pharmaceutical products, the lifespan may be quite short. The shape of the technology lifecycle is often referred to as S-curve.

The TLC associated with a product or technological service is different from product life-cycle (PLC) dealt with in product life-cycle management. The latter is concerned with the life of a product in the marketplace with respect to timing of introduction, marketing measures, and business costs. The technology underlying the product (for example, that of a uniquely flavored tea) may be quite marginal but the process of creating and managing its life as a branded product will be very different.[citation needed]

The technology life cycle is concerned with the time and cost of developing the technology, the timeline of recovering cost, and modes of making the technology yield a profit proportionate to the costs and risks involved. The TLC may, further, be protected during its cycle with patents and trademarks seeking to lengthen the cycle and to maximize the profit from it.

The “product” of the technology may just be a commodity such as the polyethylene plastic or a sophisticated product like the ICs used in a smartphone.

The development of a competitive product or process can have a major effect on the lifespan of the technology, making it shorter. Equally, the loss of intellectual property rights through litigation or loss of its secret elements (if any) through leakages also work to reduce a technology’s lifespan. Thus, it is apparent that the management of the TLC is an important aspect of technology development.

In the simplest formulation, innovation can be thought of as being composed of research, development, demonstration, and deployment.[1]
Most new technologies follow a similar technology maturity lifecycle describing the technological maturity of a product. This is not similar to a product life cycle, but applies to an entire technology, or a generation of a technology.

Technology adoption is the most common phenomenon driving the evolution of industries along the industry lifecycle. After expanding new uses of resources they end with exhausting the efficiency of those processes, producing gains that are first easier and larger over time then exhaustingly more difficult, as the technology matures

2)

Tyrants, Dictators & S Curve:

The latest with Thailand’s military junta, is also about the S-Curve:

A few days earlier the Cabinet supported the Industry Ministry’s identification of 10 future industries that the ministry predicted would become the country’s new economic drivers.

It has also been revealed that the Council of Economic Ministers will go on a road show next year in a bid to get foreign direct investment to pumped into the targeted industries and the planned special economic zones in border areas.

“The aim of the committee is to make sure that the SET’s future plan will follow the direction of the s-curve strategy to push Thailand towards a higher income country by providing more support for the small and medium enterprises that are in the targeted industries,” said Somkid, who joined Apisak for the SET visit.

But as with Thailand’s “Smart Farmer” concept, what is Thailand’s societal environment?

The fact is, Thailand is a very oppressive & suppressive society, with a far extreme right wing, conservatism, forcing onto the Thai people. Therefore, freedom of expression and human rights, are very much limited, and the Thai conservative views on Thailand and global issues forced onto the Thai people. This is not an environment where disruptive innovation can occur easily, to propel technology, such as the 10 industries the Thai junta is targeting, to new discovery for a new S-Curve, as disruptive innovation, requires both criticism and creativity, in an open societal environment.

And because criticism and creativity, in Thailand, occurs with a strictly enforced “Think Inside the Box” no open thinking, Thailand’s universities and students, are ranked amoung the poorest quality globally.

3)

Elected Government & S Curve:

With Yingluck’s agriculture scheme being highly criticized and calls made for Thailand to, instead, increase its farmers productivity, Yingluck responded by maintaining the susidy, but also launched a “Smart Farmer” campaign, to use such thing as Geo-informatics.

Malaysia’s News Agency, Bernama, Reports:

The Ministry of Science and Technology will apply space and satellite technology of Italy to manage agriculture in Thailand, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

Science and Technology Minister Peeraphan Palusuk acknowledged at a seminar here on aerospace technology that Italy has highly-advanced space technology and its four satellites have suitable capacities for the Thai climate. The seminar in Friday was jointly organised by the ministry, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) and the Italian Embassy in Thailand.

Peeraphan said Thailand has sealed an agreement to use the Italian COSMO-SkyMed satellites with radar sensors, as their cloud-penetrating observation systems suit Thailand, a country covered by monsoons, and images from the Italian satellites can, thus, be used to support Thailand’s observation of weather and disaster-prone areas for public safety. According to the minister, the Italian satellites will be important tools for the examination of farmland and agricultural zoning in Thailand and it can also be applied for military affairs. (Source)

4)

Smart Farmer:

Thailand‘s agriculture sector is large, and Thailand is one of about 10 countries that is a net exporter of food. And for Thailand, that agriculture sector, is equally important.

Thailand’s Agriculture Sector from the Wikipedia: “According to Wikipedia, forty-nine percent of Thailand’s labor force is employed in agriculture, however this is less than the 70% employed in 1980. And Thai Agriculture has been experiencing a transition from labour intensive and transitional methods into a more industrialised and competitive sector. Between 1962 and 1983, the agricultural sector grew by 4.1% on average a year and continued to grow at 2.2% between 1983 and 2007.”

Thailand’s elected government of Yingluck, again, have increased Thailand’s agriculture subsidy, resulting in what, Thai rice farmers have said, “Income up, debt down and purchasing power increased” and also stressed increasing agriculture productivity.

While increasing agriculture productivity can indeed increase farmers income, increasing farm productivity, through most methods, including through technology, has a long track record on implementation to be a challenge to agricultural countries with large agriculture sector, such as Thailand.

Thailand is no exception.

As mentioned before, Thailand’s political situation is unstable and policy change comes often. And the “S Curve” in agriculture takes a great deal of time and efforts, meaning, requiring a great deal of sustainable development. Howeve, for a long time, Thailand recognized the important of technology in farming.

NESDB:

According to Thailand’s long-term planner, National Economic and Social Development Board, agriculture is the country’s third most important contributor to GDP, after the services sector, which contributes about 52 per cent and the manufacturing sector, which contributes about 39 per cent. In its distant third place, agriculture contributes only 9 per cent of GDP but it has the second-largest number of people employed, at 39 per cent of the country’s total. The service sector has the largest number of employees, with 43 per cent and the manufacturing sector, about 18 per cent.

However, there is a big gap between the number of labourers and the total contribution of the agriculture sector. The challenge is how to use technologies and knowledge to improve productivity in this sector, in terms of quantity and quality.

NECTEC:

In recognizing the importance of the sector, since 2008, Thailand’s science and technology development unit, NECTEC, has set up 3 flagships of which the main objectives is to drive NECTEC’s R&D works into application relevant to real sectors of Thai economy. The 3 flagships are: the “Digitalized Thailand”, the “Smart Health” and the “Smart Farm” concept.

NECTECs concept of Smart Farm is to apply IT and electronics technology to the conventional agriculture sector in order to amplify the productivity and quality of agricultural products that will ultimately raise the quality of living of farmers in rural areas. The Smart Farm Flagship concentrates on 4 main agricultural products which are rice, cassava, rubber and sugar cane.
To make these operations into “smart farms”, NECTEC has two main plans: providing research and development, especially the supply of basic field-level sensors capable of reading pH (soil acidity or alkalinity), humidity and temperature; and developing a database of agricultural knowledge, then providing farmers with access to it.
In the first three years, the project will aim to increase agricultural productivity by applying knowledge and technology at farm level, since these are the industry’s production units. Later, NECTEC will turn its focus to the agricultural supply chain and logistics. In supplying equipment to farmers, Nectec will work with its sister centres under the National Science and Technology Development Centre, including Biotec, MTEC, and Nanotec.

In implementation, for example, NECTEC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Agricultural Land Reform Office (Alro), which is responsible for about 1 million rai of rice-farming land, or about 10 per cent of Thailand’s total rice-production area. Under the agreement, smart-farm initiatives will be introduced to this area through a co-managed project called “Alro Cyber Brain”, where farmers were offered sensors to evaluate the status of the main plant nutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), in their farm’s soil. They will then be able to send the result by mobile phone short message service to Alro’s server and a fertiliser will be formulated specifically for their farm.

6)

Other Factors for Smart Farm:

First:

Under Yingluck, Thailand’s Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) has come up with its “Smart Farm” project to encourage farmers to adopt new farming technologies to increase their output, in a program to boost Thailand’s agricultural productivity and improve farming efficiency with the objective of increasing farmer’s income to at least Bt180,000 a year.

Second:

Thailand under Yingluck, set up its first Space Technology Center for Geo Informatic, which could greatly help in farming efficiency. For example, by using remote sensing satellite technology and mathematical algorithms, can allow farmers to understand how to use water in their fields most productively. Latest technology in “Pixel Intelligence Mapping” can give the ability to capture and read the carbon dioxide output, water evaporation and temperature of the leaves from a satellite as it passes overhead. The data can be interpreted and accessed by the farmer, who can consider the ‘water spend’ for areas as small as individual fields, to the whole sweep of a river basin or irrigation system.

Third:

Thailand is moving close to widespread availability of smart phone, where data, such as “Pixel Intelligence Mapping” will be available in the field direct to smart phones. With smart phone, cost of the data to farming communities would be low and ensure the data is accurate and easily available. The result is, scientific information, such as that, combining with the farmers’ local knowledge to increase crop yields and improve water usage, could increase efficiency.

Fourth:

Thailand’s farm machinery makers, are contributing to the “Smart Farm” concept. For example, Kubota, a major farm equipment manufacturer in Thailand, have launched a “Smart Farmer” project, to help boost the usage of farm machinery and also proper usage of that machinery in Thailand.

Fifth:

The Thai government, recognizing the popularity of organic food and the rising cost of modern chemical based farming, have been pushing Thai farmers to switch to non chemical based farming, or at least, substitute some farming chemicals, to organic compound, such as organic fertilizersand naturally available pest control substances.

Six:

Thailand, both private and public sector is investing a great deal in research and development of new seeding for higher yielding crops. For example, with global warming, resulting in more diverse weather pattern, Thailand is introducing flood resistance rice seeding for impacted areas to use. Furthermore, for example, Thailand is developing seeding for crops that have ability to withstand pest and deceases.

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