Agricultural Development and Commercialization

Mekong Institute (MI) and the Rice Department of Thailand under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives presented the frame of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that that will help strengthen the region’s rice production preparedness and early warning system in an online regional workshop on September 1 and 2, 2021.  

“At the moment, this AI system is merely a structure,” Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, MI Executive Director said, “how this will be optimized to enhance the resiliency of rice industries for food security and more competitive markets will depend on our commitment in pooling resources, data, and expertise.”

Considered as Asia’s veritable rice bowl, the Mekong-Lancang region produces 44 percent of the world’s rice. However, rice industries in Cambodia, P.R. China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam have become increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, natural disasters, and pest outbreaks.

Given the transboundary nature of these calamities, Mr. Suriyan underscored that “regional cooperation is integral for countries to better prepare and adapt to future disasters.”

Dr. Payorm Cobelli, Director of Rice Protection Research Group, Division of Rice Research and Development at the Thailand Rice Department, and Project Team Leader, also emphasized that the workshop is an important juncture, as concurrence on the uniformity and timestamp of data sets will result to the credibility and sustainability of the region’s first agri-based AI system.

Given expansive data sets required to establish accurate modeling, such as weather patterns, range of rice pests, frequency of natural disasters, and diverse irrigation systems, Dr. Arthit Srikaew, Associate Professor of the Institute of Engineering at Suranaree University of Technology and an AI-based system developer, provided the 40 Mekong-Lancang government representatives authoritative guidance in the data acquisition process to ensure the integrity, applicability, usefulness, and compatibility of the information that will be encoded into the AI system in the next quarter.

Supported by the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund, the activity was implemented under the
“Development of Rice Pest and Natural Disaster Monitoring, Forecasting and Warning Center for Sustainable Rice Production under Climate Change in the Mekong-Lancang Subregion” project.

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