Along with society
Improving Cassava Farm Productivity and Creating Sustainable Agriculture
The Ajinomoto Group conducts business on a global scale. At the same time, we work closely with local producers, hoping to grow together. We are also involved in community contribution activities that address local issues that cannot be solved through conventional business activities alone.
Since June 2020, AJINOMOTO CO., (THAILAND) LTD. has operated the Thai Farmer Better Life Partner project in collaboration with FD Green (Thailand) Co., Ltd., a company engaged in sales of co-products*. Cassava and sugarcane are the main raw materials used to make AJI-NO-MOTO® umami seasoning. The Thai Farmer Better Life Partner project focuses on the cassava supply chain, aiming to improve agricultural productivity and support independence of farmers in Thailand.
- *Co-products: Nutrient-rich byproducts of the amino acid production process that can be used as a fertilizer and feed.
Challenges Faced by Thai Cassava Farmers
After cassava is harvested in the field, it is transported to a starch factory for processing into powdered tapioca starch. AJINOMOTO CO., (THAILAND) LTD. purchases this tapioca starch as a raw material of the AJI-NO-MOTO® umami seasoning. FD Green sells co-products (byproducts) of this process for use as a nutrient component in cassava fields, creating sustainable bio-cycle relationships.
Meanwhile, Thailand continues to urbanize, and the aging of farmers with lack of successors is a serious issue. In addition, the cassava mosaic disease, spreading since 2018, has caused an ongoing decline in crop yields. A survey conducted by AJINOMOTO CO., (THAILAND) LTD. prior to the project implementation revealed many other challenges.
But without cassava farmers, our business and sustainable bio-cycles would not be possible. The Thai Farmer Better Life Partner project aims to provide solutions to the challenges faced by farmers, improve economic value, and create positive cycles.
Major Challenges Faced by Farmers
Main Project Policies
Kamphaeng Phet is a small town about five hours northwest of Bangkok by car. The area is one of Thailand's leading agricultural provinces and the second largest producer of cassava in the country. It is also home to our manufacturing base and FD Green. The Thai Farmer Better Life Partner project focuses on this area to develop measures addressing the issues faced by farmers.
Battling Cassava Mosaic Disease
Cassava mosaic disease is a viral disease that causes mosaic-like white spots on leaves and ultimately death to the plant. Cassava stems are planted once a year. The disease spreads if infected stems are used. In some cases, the disease is also transmitted by whiteflies, which are insects about 1 millimeter in length. We support the following approaches to combat this disease.
|Sometimes farmers do not know about cassava mosaic disease in the first place. We educate these farmers on what the disease is, how to identify symptoms visually, and how to respond correctly.
|We use a highly sensitive analytical method based on antigen-antibody reaction to confirm infections and communicate results to farmers. We also spread information through media coverage.
|We are currently designing ways to identify infected stems visually from the sky. (Under development)
|We conduct joint research with Khon Kaen University, a national university in Thailand. (Under development)
Basic Education on Cultivation Techniques
Although Thailand is known a major agricultural country, 80% of farmers in Kamphaeng Phet Province no more than an elementary school education (2013). General knowledge of soil and cultivation techniques is not advanced. We develop educational programs on basic cassava cultivation techniques and how to read and understand soil diagnoses. In addition to seminars, we also confirm understanding through paper tests and other follow-up.
Free Soil Diagnosis
In collaboration with the Land Development Department of the Thailand Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, AJINOMOTO CO., (THAILAND) LTD. offers free soil diagnoses to farmers in Kamphaeng Phet. Our free reports visualize required nutrients, the amount of soil conditioners, and the timing of fertilizer application in an easy-to-understand manner. We conducted approximately 350 analyses in 2020, 500 in 2021, and expect to conduct more than 750 in 2022.
AJINOMOTO CO., (THAILAND) LTD.is developing Amina, a microbial material that both increases cassava yield and reduces fertilizer volumes. The base production technology was transferred from the Department of Agriculture of the Thailand Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. We expect to begin sales of Amina beginning in fiscal 2023.
Healthy Seed Stalks
In collaboration with the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy of Thailand, we are working to provide farmers with seed stalks not infected with cassava mosaic disease. We conduct prior inspections of cultivation conditions and perform analyses ensure seed stalks are free from cassava mosaic disease.
Results to Date
AJINOMOTO CO., (THAILAND) LTD. refers to the farmers willing to participate in the Thai Farmer Better Life Partner project as “trial” farmers. According to the 2021 harvest results of the 187 trial farmers who participated in the project, cassava yield improved by an average of 36% and income improved by an average of 22%. With these results, the number of trial farmers has increased to 526 as of July 2022. Opportunities to receive support from the government and inquiries from other prefectures are also increasing.
Future Goals and Outlook
Our future goal is to eventually expand the number of trial farmers to cover all tapioca starch output in Kamphaeng Phet purchased by AJINOMOTO CO., (THAILAND) LTD. We will also work with starch production plants to increase operations, ensure more of the harvest from cassava farmers supported by the project will become input (raw materials) for Ajinomoto Thailand. In this way, we will encourage the bio-cycle and help develop sustainable agriculture in Thailand.