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Feature: China's digital technology empowers durian cultivation in Thailand

Source:Xinhua 2024-06-11

CHANTHABURI, Thailand, June 11 (Xinhua) -- At a durian orchard in Thailand's Chanthaburi province, a Thai orchard owner and a Chinese social media influencer were promoting durians to Chinese netizens through the livestreaming e-commerce platform Tmall.

Chanthaburi province, about 250 km away from the capital Bangkok, is an important durian planting area in eastern Thailand.

Kosai, a 32-year-old orchard owner, took over the durian orchard from his parents five years ago and now his durian orchard has more than 400 durian trees.

"This is Thailand's Monthong durian with soft flesh and sweet flavor. Chinese netizens, you must buy some and have a taste," said Kosai.

What makes Kosai proud is that his orchard is a smart orchard which was jointly built by the Commercial Association for Sustainability of Agriculture (CASA) in Thailand and the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center (FECC) of China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The Internet of Things (IoT) installed by the Chinese side in Kosai's orchard, such as meteorological, water level and soil moisture monitoring, could provide data support for the scientific cultivation of durian and the improvement of fruit quality.

"These intelligent agricultural IoT devices could provide refined meteorological services for us and we could decide the spraying and maintenance time based on the data. At the same time, we can also monitor soil moisture content to see whether it is suitable for durian growth, which greatly improves the scientific management of the orchard," said Kosai.

Kosai added that through monitoring, they knew this year's weather was hot and the soil was dry, which could not only help them grasp the watering situation of the orchard, but also help them calculate the amount of water required for the durians' entire growth cycle.

In 2023, the FECC launched the Smart Farm Integrated Development Pilot Program in Thailand and established a pilot smart orchard in Thailand.

"We selected durians as the pilot product due to its high potential and large exports to China, in order to promote the digital development of orchard cultivation, industrial chain and marketing, improve the quality of agricultural products and output benefits, as well as boost agricultural product trade cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations," said Zhang Bin, deputy director of the FECC of China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

In order to explore the Chinese market, the FECC has also teamed up with China's e-commerce platform to develop online sales channels and hold livestreaming activities.

It could cut out middleman and save costs by livestreaming and the durians could be sold to Chinese consumers more convenient, said Kosai, adding that conducting livestreaming in Thai orchards and displaying durians on-site can make customers more assured of the quality of durians.

Thailand is one of the world's major durian producers and exporters, with a large amount of durians being exported to China every year.

"Durian is one of the most popular fruits in China. China's consumer demand is strong and the market potential is huge," said Klos Hirunburana, chairman of CASA in Thailand, adding that their association has more than 400 members and in collaboration with the Chinese partners, it could improve digital application in orchards, realize monitoring and tracking of the entire process from orchard planting to selling, so as to ensure the durian quality from the source.

"With China being our most important export market, we can improve the quality of our durians through digital empowerment and cooperation. Hope Chinese consumers will continue to like Thai durians," said Klos. 

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