“Pracharath” collaboration advances “Bioeconomy”, a driving force to revitalize investment and innovation while strengthening the national economy

Representatives of public and private sectors and educational and research institutions announced their commitment to support the implementation of the Bioeconomy” project, as a new economic model under the “Pracharath or people-state, partnership model” in order to develop an industrial cluster for New S-Curve Industries. This effort will be a driving force to strengthen the country’s economy and industrial base to meet the objectives of the Thailand 4.0 strategic plan. The project will begin with pilot cassava and sugarcane plants, both considered as economically viable crops available in Thailand. It will also encourage modern farming management to help farmers cultivate high quality and productive plants at a low cost and it can convert agricultural raw materials to be high value bioproducts (Biorefinery), establish Biopolis, a new city founded on bioeconomic principles and integrated innovation with modern telecommunication systems, infrastructure and public facilities and advance research institutions. The project features a 10-year investment plan focused on the bioeconomy group valued approximately 400 billion baht, with 51,000 million baht of investment in the first phase between 2017-2018   by starting at Rayong and expand to central northeast in Khonkaen and nearby areas.

January 23, 2017: Recently at the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao, the Cluster Development Steering Committee for New S-Curve Industries led by Minister of Industry,  Mr. Uttama Savanayana as head of the public sector and Mr. Prasert Bunsumpun, Chairman of PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited as head of the private sector, organized the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing ceremony that included 23 agencies from the public and private sectors and educational and research institutions. This will be the beginning to drive investment for Bioeconomy of Thailand. Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak presided over the signing ceremony as the chairman of the Pracharath Collaboration steering committee (public sector). Also, General Anantaporn Kanjanarat,  Minister of Energy, Mrs. Atchaka Sibunruang, Minister of Science and Technology and Mr. Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Pracharath Collaboration steering committee (private sector) attended the ceremony.

Bioeconomy applies two key elements, a modern farm and Biorefinery, and manages them with advanced technology and research and development in order to create numerous value-added benefits.  It will foster essential changes from an agricultural-based economy to an innovation based economy. Bioeconomy is founded on development of cassava and sugar cane, as the world’s first and second-largest exported agricultural products respectively, to be pilot crops. It will create other industries in the high value-added chain type including  bioenergy such as ethanol, biomass power as an alternative source of energy which is stable and competitive, biochemical industry such as bioplastic,  food and feed for future industries which will produce ingredients to use instead of chemical substances in the natural, protein rich  animal food products and biopharmaceuticals which are new and future oriented industries requiring significant investment in research and development.

It is anticipated that within the next 10 years, the overall investment input of the whole value chain will be over 400,000 million baht. At the 10th year, the project will increase the value of sugar cane, amounting to over 300 billion baht per year, increase the value of cassava to over 100 billion baht per year, and increase farmer revenues, estimated at 75,000 baht per person per year. It will also increase the employment in production plants and research areas to over 20,000 positions and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossils by 70 million tons. Collectively it supports the Thai Prime Minister’s goal and government policies to cooperate fully with all requirements of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Minister of Industry Mr. Uttama Savanayana, head of public sector for steering committees on the new S-curve industries, said, leveraging the Bioeconomy has become a global trend, the ‘talk of the town’ over the past 10 year due to global warming, declining cultivatable land areas combined with higher food and clean energy demands. Many countries were compelled to formulate a Bioeconomy blueprint and apply advanced technology in of agriculture, biotechnology and health science to build various value bioproducts to support bioeconomy of the country. The World Economic Forum noted that that potential of value chain of bioeconomy of the world that is over 200,000 million Euros or 7.5 million million baht in 2020. Examples of valued bioproducts are Degradation plastic that is made from bio raw material, Food for the future that are special products aligned with individual demand,  Medicine that matches with the DNA of each patient (Personalized medicines) and  Hydrogen energy (Energy of future) that is made from glucose.

Thailand’s competitiveness derives largely from Biodiversity. Thailand has farmers who have abilities to produce quality agricultural products, strength in food industry and bioenergy to develop its bioeconomy while the “Pracharath” Collaboration is developing a roadmap for bioeconomy. The bioeconomy will start at the Eastern Economy Corridor (EEC) area that is     a key mechanism of the government to drive large investment and link with the targeted industry development, transportation system and area/location development. The bioeconomy integration is positioned as one of the targeted industries in the EEC that already have their bases such as petrochemicals, auto and electronic industries as well as new industries such as medical, robot and aircraft industries. The beginning of the bioeconomy will start in Rayong and expand to the Northeastern region, according to the roadmap.

 “The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) represents a stepping stone in kick-starting new growth engines consisting of inclusive growth, productive growth, and green growth for Thailand to pave the way toward achieving its vision of ‘Stability, Prosperity, and Sustainability’ in accordance with the Prime Minister’s vision on Thailand’s 20-year national strategy,” added head of public sector.

Minister of Energy, General Anantaporn Kanjanarat, said, Bioeconomy project consists of agriculture and 5 industries including (1) Bioenergy (2) Biochemicals (3) Food for the future (4) Feed for the future and (5) Biopharmaceuticals. The Energy Ministry has engaged with the Bioenergy in advancing the Alternative Energy Development Plan 2015. The plan aims to decrease energy import and supports using alternative energy at an aggregate amount of 30% of the country’s total energy use and decrease CO2 emissions by 70 million tons.

Bioenergy is founded on underlying support for current alternative energy usage. It will start with targeted agricultural crops which the D5 Committee recommendation to use and develop value including cassava and sugar cane which the ministry uses for ethanol production with biofuel raw materials to combine with benzene petrol to produce E10, E20 and E85 gasohol. The Ministry realizes that both crops can develop further in forms such as mix ethanol 10% and B7 diesel 90% to be diesohol, Compressed Bio-Methane Gas (CBG) development from waste water and raw material from cassava and sugar cane industries to use instead of NGV in the transportation industry as well as improve efficiency of sugar plants for producing more electricity.

Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs. Atchaka Sibunruang, said the core principle of bioeconomy focuses on creating a balance between economic growth and sustainability. Bioeconomy is a model of development that aligns with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It will become a key global driver of economic development in the future including in Thailand which stands to benefit from increased added value for bio raw materials and large bioresources.

The Ministry of Science and Technology is ready to support all components including research and development and access to key foundational structures such as Thailand Science Park consisting of food innopolis and a food feed innovation center as a one-stop service to encourage SMEs to use science and technology to build competitiveness. Thailand’s Bioresources Research Center undertakes extensive research of standard microorganisms of which there are more than 70,000 breeds. Furthermore, the ministry has developed MOST One Stop Service that links and integrates the ministry’s tools to encourage high product quality development to compete in international markets.

Mr. Prasert Bunsumpun, Chairman of PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited as head of private sector for steering committees on the cluster development for new S-curve industries, said regarding progress toward developing the country’s new S-curve industries, that the committee of Bioeconomy with Mr. Anon Sirisaengtaksin leading participation from the private sector appreciates the urgency underscoring the need to boost the country’s competitiveness and overcome challenges.

The project features a 10-year investment plan focused on the bioeconomy group valued approximately 400 billion baht. The first phase, between 2017-2018, with 51,000 million baht of investment aims to develop bioenergy, biochemicals, food for the future and biophamarceuticals that will increase demand and market.

Second phase, between 2019-2021, with 182,000 million baht of investment is to establish Biorefinery complexes and Biopolis, a new city founded on bioeconomic principles and integrated innovation. The third phase, between 2022-2026, with 132,000 million baht of investment aims to become the Regional Hub, a model for new and future industries.

The signing ceremony of the participating public and private sector entities agencies, and educational and research institutions reflects a common understanding of the need to develop Thailand’s bioeconomy that is a new wave economy under the “Pracharath” Collaboration. Their linkage will make both public and private sectors better work with each other while educational and research institutions will be instrumental in developing important technology for bioeconomy development including Lab-scale studies and pilot plant development processes. It will bring success through sustainability and facilitate Thailand’s objective of becoming a Bio Hub of the world.  Then Thailand will be become a leading ‘future food’ producer, biomedical industry developer, center of innovation in the bioeconomy and key participant in the global supply chain.