Thai and German Governments Join Forces to Create a Modern Agriculture Network

The Science and Technology Minister paid a visit to Jülich Institute in Germany to study new developments and advance modern agriculture collaboration in support of the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) and the Thailand 4.0 policy.

On April 18, Dr. Suvit Maesincee, the Minister of Science and Technology, visited Jülich Research Center (Forschungszentrum Jülich) in Cologne, the Federal Republic of Germany, along with Dr. Janekrishna Kanatharana, Vice President of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Dr. Somvong Tragoonrung, Executive Director of the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC), executives of the Ministry of Science and Technology, and representatives from the private sectors. The group was welcomed by the director of the institute Prof. Dr. Ing Harald Bolt. The goal of the visit was to foster collaboration on modern agriculture research and technology to sustainably elevate agricultural products and increase the value of bioeconomy in support of the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) and the Thailand 4.0 policy.

Dr. Suvit revealed that NSTDA was carrying out “The Collaborative Bioeconomy International Project” in cooperation with Forschungszentrum Jülich, Rayong Farm Crops Research Center under the Department of Agriculture, and King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), to study the phenotypes, genotypes, and anatomies relevant to the development of the storage root of cassava in order to develop precision technology and elevate yield per rai while also achieving maximum water consumption efficiency.

A joint venture between the German government (approximately 32 million baht investment) and NSTDA (approximately 30 million baht investment) with a three-year timeframe (2017-2019), the research project is carried out in Rayong. So far, the project has successfully identified anatomical features of cassava roots that affect the growth and food storage of cassava grown in greenhouses. A trial cassava plantation has also been carried out by King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT).

In addition, phenotypes of the root development of 600 cassava varieties collected at Rayong Farm Crops Research Center are also being studied by Rayong Farm Crops Research Center under the Department of Agriculture and NSTDA’s NECTEC. Approximately 300 species have been planted, and data on root development phenotypes has been collected on about 100 of these. The study has shown a significant difference in their development, and a mobile application has been created to monitor the growth and food storage of these roots.

Furthermore, NSTDA’s BIOTEC has also employed genomic tools to locate and identify molecule and gene markers and studied genes that regulate root development in cassava to confirm their genetic duties. The results will be applied to the preliminary selection process in the cassava variety development program by BIOTEC. The DNA of various cassava varieties with different food storage patterns has also been extracted to identify the genes that regulate the conversion of fibrous roots into storage roots (which affects cassava yield).

Following this visit, the two parties will establish joint research labs on modern agriculture in Thailand Science Park or EECi and Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany in order to elevate productivity and strengthen bioeconomy of both countries sustainably.

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