Poladrone Expands its Wings to Thailand

by Afiq Bahruddin

The National Innovation Agency (NIA) and Nest Group (Thailand) Co., Ltd. showcased proofs-of-concept (PoCs) from entrepreneurs of the first global AgTech programme ever to be held in Thailand to Thai and international investors, government officials, and corporate decision-makers at today’s “Demo Day” event.

The accelerator programme “AGrowth”, supported by corporate partners, Siam Kubota Corporation and the Research & Innovation for Sustainability Center (RISC) under Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Ltd. (MQDC), officially launched on October 1st this year to provide a platform for 10 selected startups from Australia, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Nigeria, USA and Thailand from a total of 240 applications.

This programme is to help the startups to further develop their innovative technologies in relation to plant technology, precision agriculture, automation, machine sharing, drones, indoor farming and farm management to help address the challenges that are facing the traditional farming practices in Thailand.

“Agriculture is regarded as the backbone of Thailand’s economic and social development. One out of three of our country’s workforce is in the agricultural sector, reflecting 25 million people out of Thailand’s total population. However, the efficiency in agricultural production is below those of other countries, and one of the reasons is because there is a lack of innovation and technology application in this sector. Therefore, in order to further stimulate and develop the Thai agricultural sector to become competitive and sustainable, these new technologies will become important tools to herald a new era for Thai agriculture. Coinciding with the government’s BCG model, these participating startups will act as new economic warriors who have created innovative initiatives to better equip our farmers to cope with the future world of agriculture as well as enabling them to become global players on the world stage”, remarked Dr. Krithpaka Boonfueng, Deputy Executive Director (Innovation Systems) of the National Innovation Agency (NIA).

Poladrone’s CEO, Jin Xi Cheong with Poladrone Thailand Country Lead, Aron, pictured at Agrowth Accelerator Event.

Agrowth has provided Poladrone with a stepping stone to kickstart its operations in Thailand. As mentioned earlier, agriculture, which is Poladrone’s main niche, plays a very crucial role in Thailand’s economy.

Together with our program partner, Kubota Corporation, Poladrone set out to develop novel precision agriculture solutions by leveraging UAV technology. In the initial stage, the team decided to focus on the sugarcane crop, one of Thailand’s most important agriculture products.

Specifically, the team aimed to develop algorithms that allow farmers to use multispectral aerial images to determine the sugar content, or the BRIX value, of the sugar canes in order to apply predictive models to optimise the time of harvest, better forecast yields and better detect any outbreak of disease.

Aron speaking at one of the Agrowth events.

The team first spent two months collecting ground and aerial data as well as compiling datasets of crop information. The data was then fed into a correlation model to develop predictive algorithms between aerial drone data and actual values as measured on the ground.

Poladrone will continue to refine its crop analytics programs in Thailand on sugarcane and hopes to develop similar solutions for other important Thai crops in the future.

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