KTIS Group believes that "to achieve success in the cane and sugar business, both farmers and the manufacturers must progress with stability and prosperity in parallel manner".
Mr. Jaroon Siriviriyakul, founder of KTIS Group, has stated for over 30 years that anyone with money can buy machinery for sugar mills but the true stability of the sugar mills depends on raw materials, which is sugarcane. So we must create career success for our sugarcane farmers. Make them rich from sugarcane cultivation; farmers will keep on planting sugarcane and be with us always. Our factories then will be secured."
This statement has become the philosophy of the company's sugar mill operation by KTIS Group that "Wealthy sugarcane farmers secure KTIS Group," in which the executives and every staff member have committed and practiced to be the most important mission since then.
The Farmer Development Plan
In 1995, KTIS executives took an observation trip to Australia to view the production of sugarcane. Australiais considered to be a country with the most advanced technology in the sugarcane and sugar industry in the world, especially regarding sugarcane farming. Each year, a lot of Thai's have visited Australia for observation trips and purchased agricultural equipment and sugarcane breeds back to Thailand. However, they have failed with no results as seen in Australia. The company's executives therefore realize that this results from applying sugarcane cultivation Australian style without real knowledge and true understanding behind it. Therefore, they decided to invite experts in the sugarcane cultivation from Australia to study and grow sugarcane in Thailand.
For many years, the group has researched and experimented on sugarcane cultivation in Thailand starting from using farm equipment from Australia. Eventually, the new approach is used by applying concepts and modern techniques from Australia.Some modifications were applied to suit the environment, climate and Thai agricultural machinery as well as proper guidelines for sugarcane cultivation. This knowledge and its development method is called "Sugarcane Farmer Development Plan", which covers every step in sugarcane cultivation with consideration of timing, standards and quality.
Timing Standard Quality
With the objective to transfer knowledge in sugarcane cultivation to Thai sugarcane farmers in order that they can learn and apply the technique to their own fields, the company has practiced in its own farms, not in laboratories. When expected results have been realized, the technique is transferred to the interested sugarcane farmers, and later, promoted to sugarcane farmers under contract with the company.
Since then, the sugarcane cultivation by sugarcane farmers under contract with the company has progressed rapidly and effectively. Sugarcane farmers have adopted the techniques until they have become common practices in promotional areas for the company. Therefore, it is considered that the Sugarcane Farmer Development Plan is truly the pioneering approach of the company for the sugarcane cultivation development.
KTIS Group believes that, for success in the sugarcane cultivation, the sugarcane farmers must apply academic knowledge in sugarcane cultivation. Hence, it has launched a project for a sugarcane farmer school in order to promote and transfer the knowledge to sugarcane farmers. The curriculum begins with basic courses for new sugarcane farmers, who have just started sugarcane cultivation, both in theories and with practices before they can grow sugarcane on their own farms, as well as special programs, which teach about advance technology in sugarcane cultivation.
Finally, it covers the learning process at the level that sugarcane farmers can apply the knowledge and exchange information among them in order to increase efficiency in the sugarcane cultivation so the sugarcane farmers can improve their productivity and quality of sugarcane according to their potential. Additionally, this allows an opportunity for other sugarcane farmers to learn and share experiences for their success in the sugarcane farming career.
> Farmer School
> Knowledgement Sharing
Cane Seed Bank
Sugarcane cultivation in each season requires a lot of crops. Besides selection of sugarcane crops suitable for conditions in each plot, it is also essential to adequately supply sugarcane crops and efficiently manage them for inexpensive costs.
Since sugarcane crops are expensive factors in production, KTIS Group has launched the Sugarcane Bank Project, which supplies sugarcane crops in order to support new sugarcane farmers, who have just started farming, or old farmers, who want to change their own breed to the new one promoted by the factories.
Cane Irrigation systems
Water is an extremely important factor in sugarcane cultivation. Most sugarcane plantations in Thailand are out of an irrigation zone. Therefore, sugarcane production depends on the amount and distribution of rain each year. In order to reduce the risk of sugarcane production which depends on the climate, KTIS Group focuses on water resource development and water supply systems for sugarcane cultivation.
- Development of Water Resources in Sugarcane Farm
KTIS Group has cooperated with sugarcane farmers to develop water resources for sugarcane cultivation. By launching a project in cooperation with 11-District of NakhonSawan Farmer Association, Si Quare Farmer Association, Phraya Pichai Son Farmer Association, and Department of Irrigation Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Kasetsart University – Kampangsaen Campus, NakhonPathom Province, the company has organized a project to primarily study potential water resources for utilizing in sugarcane farming. There are currently many water resources in development that are:
> Excavating Ponds
> Drilling Underground Water Well
- Developing Water Supply System for Sugarcane Cultivation
In addition to water resource development, KTIS Group has also launched a project to provide training in efficient water utilization for maximum benefit to sugarcane cultivation. Commonly used water supply systems by sugarcane farmers are ditch network, flooding, water tank system, or sprinkle system. However, the most popular system used by sugarcane farmers is now the water dripping system on the ground.
> Water Supply Development for Sugarcane Cultivation – Water Dripping System on the Ground
KTIS Group is considered a pioneer in the water dripping system on the ground for sugarcane cultivation, and is among the first ones that developed the system in the country, and introduced it to sugarcane farmers. Originally, the water dripping system is a technology that was developed in Israel, where the topography is arid and not suitable for cultivation; an underground pipeline network is then implemented in order for plants to receive water continuously in efficient manner to save water. Applying such techniques in Thailand encountered difficulty at first because it requires high investment and was immovable and the pipeline was always damaged by rats. However, further study by plantation researchers can help modify the system to be on the plantation ground instead of underground as it has become a water dripping system on the ground. Currently, this system is popular and widely used among sugarcane farmers and many factories have studied and applied this method to their systems. The outcome of applying this water dripping system has increased sugarcane production from 8-10 tons per rai to 15-17 tons per rai
Organic Pest Control
Diseases and pests of sugarcane is another key factor that affects the quality of sugarcane delivered to the factories. Hence, KTIS group focuses on disease and insect pest of sugarcane using integrated theories in pest control both by introducing varieties of sugarcane breeds that can withstand pests to sugarcane farmers and by applying organic agriculture to get rid of the sugarcane pests. For example, natural enemies can be used to control the sugarcane pests; egg parasitoids and earwigs can be used to control outbreaks of sugarcane borers; and, fungi metarhizium is developed and released to destroy longhorns. Such approach allows sugarcane farmers to control the outbreak of insect pests of sugarcane by avoiding the use of chemicals in the sugarcane fields so that raw materials are clean and free of chemical impurities. Also, such farming methods do not destroy natural ecosystems.
Research and Development
In order for sugarcane farmers to have successful careers, KTIS Group therefore implements continuous research and development regarding sugarcane cultivation. The academic department with plantation researchers will experiment and investigate on topics that will gain results that can support the work of the department for promoting sugarcane cultivation both in terms of quantity and quality of sugarcane, as well as help reduce costs for sugarcane farmers. The research topics covered will be of sugarcane breeds in order to obtain high productivity with a sweet taste that is suitable for growing in local environment, study of a harvesting period suitable for the sugarcane breeds to maximize the return-on-investment for further recommendation to sugarcane farmers.