We sat down recently with the Co-founder and CEO of Ricult to discuss the developments of Agritech within Thailand and to understand what this startup hopes to do in terms of elevating Thailand's farmers with the integration of technology.

Ricult aims to transform agriculture in developing countries through using machine learning to analyze satellite imagery and microclimate weather data, giving insights to key farming factors such as potential crop yield, pest attack, fertilizer recommendation, and optimal harvesting time. We help farmers increase productivity and reduce cost, resulting in higher income. Using that same data, we can also help banks create credit score to lend out to farmers. We have already launched in Pakistan and Thailand.

 

Can you explain more about Ricult’s business model?

We want to use technology to help empoeer smallholder farmers in the agriculture space. We use machine learning to read data to increase their productivity through an app.

Why did Ricult start their business outside of Thailand?

I met my CO-founder at MIT who is from Pakistan and we decided to set it up in this market first before bringing it to Thailand.

How do you scale your business?

Scaling up is quite a challenge in this business as the farmers are not used to technology and we have to gain their trust. First, we have to go into the community and find farmers who are innovative that can help sell and use the products as word of mouth is one of the best ways to integrate our products. The second way is through working with the government or the cooperatives who have many farmers in their network already and ask them to endorse our products. We try to be creative to scale up in this industry as its quite difficult.

What do you hope to achieve with Ricult?

We are social impact driven. Our goal is measured by the farmer's income increase. We were able to increase their income by up to 50%. We want to keep doubling their income through technology to enable their families to afford health care, a better education and enrich their lives with a positive impact to the wider agriculture community

What sort of technology do you think you may later develop to solve this problem?

We use machine learning and AI to analyse data for the farmers. but in the future, we want to implement drones for example and get to a point where farmers open our app, press a button and the drone will do the work for them and measure conditions of the farmland and weather.  Augmented reality is also another tool we want to implement.

Have you had many foreign investors?

Yes, we have had investment from MIT.

What sort of technology have you developed or hope to develop that will push Agri Tech Forward?

Big Data and AI have the power to transform the industry. AI can collect and house this data at a fast rate. we can use this data to make the agricultural industry more efficient. We have created machine learning and AI that can give information to the farmers that they can use to better their crops. We can also connect them the banks as well and even with the crop buyers. The banks can analyse the data and come up with a credit score for the farmers and analyse the risk of lending. We use this data and technology to make this whole supply chain run more smoothly and efficiently. Right now farmers have to go to a loan shark with high-interest rates with almost 200% which is crippling. By enabling banks to receive the data and allowing for low cost, low-risk loans it will increase and enrich the farmer's lives. Crop buyers can help the farmers with traceability of the crops through this data which in turn will help farmers sell direct to the buyers.

 

Within the industry where do you think Agri tech will be most useful?

As a whole agriculture is the oldest industry out there, but the least developed in a lot of ways. Argi tech has a lot of potentials to transform the industry such as AI, augmented reality which can come in and transform the industry.

What do you look for from investors?

We look for strategic investors that can recommend us to reach more investors, partners and clients to help us grow as a company.

Do you have a lot of Tech competitors in the Agri Tech world?

Most of the Argi tech startups are in the west and in developed countries, however in Thailand specifically there are not so man, so we are probably one of the first to develop it.

Why we can't see many AgriTech startups in this region? What is the biggest challenge of this industry?

I  think it's difficult to find people who understand both the tech industry and the farming community. to be successful in any startup you have to be committed to the industry and working with the farmers which can be a real challenge. most of the startups focus solely in Bangkok and not in the rural areas, living with the farmers and really doing market and industry research. For

For us, we have more knowledge, determination and understanding of Tech and Agriculture.

What were the lessons learnt from the TechCrunch disruptive event?

It was one of the largest events in tech. The main lesson learnt is that the startup and tech scene is more developed in the US than in Thailand. In Thailand, the startups are more platform based right now whereas in the US, it is at the deep tech development stage as it is more sophisticated in terms of AI and machine learning. Thailand still has a long way to go in terms of App development but it will get there eventually.

How do you plan to build Thailand to be the hub of AgriTech?

Thailand is thought of as the kitchen of the world as our resources are plentiful and tons of agriculture products in Thailand. We have very fertile soil which allows us to grow various types of food. We hope to bring in this technology and develop this industry and help improve the lives of farmers.

 

Ricult comes from the middle syllables of the word 'Agriculture'. In keeping with this phonetic tradition, Ricult aims to become integral to the agriculture of tomorrow. We feel the world is ready for farming to be revolutionized and become more inclusive and empowering for the very people who form the backbone of this industry. This goal defines the very core of what we are all about. We are not a charity. We are an empowering community transformation. This is the basis for a brighter future, built on hand-ups, not handouts. The people that feed us, need us.

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