Thai startup using AI to boost rice quality


Thailand’s world-renowned rice is getting some help from the country’s new-found technology sector, as a deep-tech startup is using artificial intelligence to transform the Kingdom’s rice industry.

Thailand is one of the world’s three largest rice exporters. Its jasmine fragrant grain is rated among the best in the world, and its grade B white rice is used by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as the global benchmark for rice prices.

A startup named Easyrice Digital Technology has developed an AI-driven solution to making quality inspections of harvested rice faster, more accurate and more reliable. That will not only improve the uniformity of quality but help keep costs down in an era of rising food prices.

“By applying AI, we can elevate inspection standards, enhance accuracy and establish a strong database that can contribute to the advancement of the Thai agricultural sector in the years to come,” said Phuvin Kongsawat, the 31-year-old chief executive and co-founder of the company.

Traditionally, rice inspections require human experts to closely examine each rice kernel. This is usually done by visual inspection. But that method can result in errors and inaccuracies.

Phuvin said those inaccuracies can affect the price bargaining among various parties along the supply chain and the quality benchmarks of Thai rice, which impacts the livelihoods of farmers.

He added that the AI inspection takes only 3 to 5 minutes per 25 grams of rice, compared with 15 to 20 minutes for the traditional method. It can save cost and time of up to 30 percent and covers 25 Thai rice standards, said Mr Phuvin, making it useful for both importers and exporters.

But rice inspectors need not fear they will lose their jobs. “AI will not replace the rice inspectors as they certify the inspection. Instead, it helps them work faster, overcoming the shortage of inspectors,” Phuvin said.

“Our aspiration is for our AI to play a pivotal role in safeguarding the value and profitability of jasmine rice by ensuring its unparalleled quality and distinctive identity,” he said.

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