Students’ innovation helps farmers with the heat killing crickets

KKU students have developed new innovative business, extended startup ideas, and built up smart greenhouse to help Thai farmers during the time of drought.

At present, global warming is a problem which every country and every person working in different occupational fields have to encounter. The increasing level of temperature does not affect humans only, but it also affects domestic animals, especially the staple insects, such as crickets. Normally, crickets live in a damp climate or they live in the condition with the temperature not higher than 32 Celsius Degree. Currently, the hot weather has caused many crickets to death. As a result, farmers have been directly facing income loss situation due to the fact that died crickets could not be sold. Some farmers have debts from raising crickets, so many of them have to quit working. This leads to unavoidable problems in farmers’ lives.

Khon Kaen University Science Park has supported KKU students to develop new innovative business and extend startup concept, related to the initiation of smart greenhouse (Qual Insect), which can help Thai farmers during the time of drought, relieving the unease situation until the upcoming rainy season.

Mr. Watcharapol Khamkhomkhet, a KKU microbiology student, Faculty of Science, Khon Kaen University
Mr. Watcharapol Khamkhomkhet, a KKU microbiology student, Faculty of Science, Khon Kaen University

Mr. Watcharapol Khamkhomkhet, a KKU microbiology student, Faculty of Science, Khon Kaen University, the founder of a startup business entitled “Qual Insect” said that the name of Qual Insect came from the word “quality”. Mr. Khamkhomkhet tried to create and uplift the standard of Thai farmers’ cricket raising method. According to the Qual Insect System, it would help increasing the number of farmers that wished to raise crickets. Since farmers faced problems in terms of hot weather in Thailand and crickets could not be raised with full potential, this innovation “Qual Insect” was used in order to create appropriate condition for cricket raising. As a result, more crickets were raised for better income.

“After surveying the area, we found that the cricket products from farmers were not stable in each month. In the cold-weathered months, the cricket products were higher and satisfactorily met the needs of farmers, whereas in the very hot-weathered months, the cricket products were low. This led to income loss. When studying the main factors in cricket raising, it is found that the temperature should be stable. The main variables are wind and water mist. The working principle of smart greenhouse is a sensor which would detect daily temperature. If the temperature is higher than 32 Celsius Degree, the sensor will work automatically by spraying water mist and work with the ventilating fan. The smart greenhouse can be controlled from mobile phone, online. It is convenient and appropriate for farmers 4.0,” said Mr. Watcharapol Khamkhomkhet.

When the student studied and conducted a research in the model greenhouse and brought the innovation “Qual Insect” or smart greenhouse into the real-area, at Nam Pong District, Khon Kaen Province, it was found that this innovation could increase productivity in cricket raising, more than 30%. In addition, it could control the temperature in the greenhouse and maintain the product level, leading to farmers’ satisfaction.

Mr. Paiboon Khammoolmat, the cricket farmer, who lives at 110, Moo.8, Bua Yai Sub-district, Nam Pong District, Khon Kaen Province said that Thailand had very hot weather and it was getting hotter nowadays. The hot weather caused a decrease in cricket products in the farm. After the KKU students conducted a research on smart greenhouse and installed heat ventilation, the previous number of cricket product went from 110 kilograms per well to 150 kilograms per well. It was great to see an increase of product at 30%.

“I am very impressed because I always work here and see the good intention from students who want to help farmers like us. The operation of the innovation is very good. It can help increasing products and reduce the time of cricket’s growth. Normally, it takes 45 days to get mature crickets to sell. Now, it takes only 35-38 days. This can lower the cost of raising crickets. The colder weather means the faster crickets grow. This is such a good way to sustainably help farmers in a long run. I think other cricket farmers would be interested in using innovative services which can create income for students who are startup founders.”

The New Innovative Business Development Project or Innovative Startup is implemented to extend ideas and concepts which can be developed into the country’s high valued startup. The KKU Innovative Startup is considered as the pushing force for students to express their full potential and become new innovative founders who can support farm’s smallholders, without leaving any farmers behind.

Prof. Dr. Supachai Pathumnakul
Prof. Dr. Supachai Pathumnakul

Prof. Dr. Supachai Pathumnakul, KKU Vice President for Innovation and Enterprise said that KKU was one of the nine Thai universities that developed research of all areas, comprising research that could be beneficially used in terms of commercial and used in terms of social community. These 2 types of research can be extended for startup businesses which will benefit the industrial sector in the Thailand’s northeastern region and throughout the country.

“In order to initiate startups, students must be triggered by the feeling that they can become successful in startup business. At KKU, we have the learning system which can create this matter well since we offer courses in business, business plan contests, business plans created by research, such as Research to Market. We have been doing the Research to Market for 4-5 years. We have created contests and offered funds, including budgets from Ministry of Science and Technology. We want students to enter into startups and they need to see successful startups. Students must see that they can become ones of successful innovators who can help our society,” added Prof. Dr. Supachai Pathumnakul.

Khon Kaen University Science Park will select and support projects initiated by KKU instructors, students and personnel. These relevant parties will also enter into the mentoring system and entrepreneurship training to become new generations of businesspeople. The mentoring system and entrepreneurship training will be conducted in collaboration with government and private sectors in order to improve potentials in the aspect of innovation and technology, driving the initiation of strong and rapidly grown innovative businesses. As we know, innovation and technology is not only the indicator of our nation’s economic growth, but it can also uplift the living standard of Thai farmers for betterment.

[ Thai ]

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