A partnership between a fertiliser manufacturer and a mobile operator may not make a lot of sense on the surface.
Dtac and Yara saw something others did not. The pair came together to develop Kaset Go, a mobile application that supports farmers in Thailand with knowledge, data, and other information. Telenor-owned dtac and Yara have been assisting Thai farmers in their own ways for some time now. The mobile operator worked to promote connectivity throughout the agriculture industry. Meanwhile, the fertiliser giant has become a trusted partner in the farming sector due to not only its products but also the knowledge it shares.
These efforts were separate until Mr Mehdi Saint-Andre, Yara VP – Thailand and Myanmar, read an article on dtac’s efforts to assist the agricultural sector. He felt there was the potential to do something together that could improve the livelihoods of farmers and support a sustainable agriculture ecosystem in Thailand. “The project came together as sort of a crazy idea and began at a very informal level. It started with a conversation through the Thai-Norway Chamber of Commerce. Even though Yara and Telenor are these two large Norwegian companies, early on in the process we understood our efforts had to be localised,” Mr Mehdi Saint-Andre, Yara VP – Thailand and Myanmar, explains. “Partnerships involving two very large companies like this aren’t always easy to create and maintain. It has been a positive experience working together.”
In early 2020, dtac and Yara announced their partnership as they looked to combine agricultural knowledge and digital connectivity to aid farmers. Less than a year later, the Kaset Go application was launched. One of the most interesting aspects of the mobile app was the fact it was not branded by either dtac or Yara. Ultimately, the partners wanted the focus to be on Kaset Go and not their respective companies. “Autonomy is very important. It is not always easy for large companies to take a neutral, hands-off approach,” Mr Saint-Andre reported. “The product isn’t about us, and we don’t want it to be focused on us. That is why we didn’t brand it. The concept needed to be validated by users and shown to everyone that it can work.”
Moving Farming Forward
It is estimated that more than 10 million farmers in Thailand have access to smartphones. Despite the easy access to information, this brings, nearly 13 million Thai farmers are still primarily reliant on their own knowledge which leads to a number of problems including reduced productivity, inefficiency, and low profitability. In a bid to reduce or eliminate those challenges, the Kaset Go application looks to supplement information through the creation of a digital community that focuses on three areas.
The first is curated knowledge from experts where they answer questions from farmers. Second, there is an information exchange where farmers can discuss similar experiences with their peers. And the final area is the publication of easily digestible academic content based on crop calendars and trends along with other key data, such as crop prices and agricultural news. All of this can be tailored to user preferences in the app.
Having worked with the sector, both dtac and Yara knew the importance trust would have in the success of Kaset Go. Mr Saint-Andre noted that since farmers tend to trust one another, the app was built with a peer-to-peer concept in mind as this would allow it to empower farmers communities through voices they were already comfortable with. Currently, Kaset Go is the fastest growing farmer app in Thailand and is helping accelerate the adoption of digital innovation across the industry. More than 500,000 farmers are registered and content in the application receives three million monthly views.
The next steps for moving farming forward through Kaset Go involves building up the community even further. This includes adding specialised information and teaming up with more experts to broaden the scope of knowledge available. Plans are in place to incorporate monetisation features, such as value-added services, into the app as well. “We want to make this a profitable business. It is important to make it a profitable business. We want to show there is value in delivering new services to farmers. This may come from indirect revenues, such as advertising or data management, at first. There will be other opportunities moving forward. The goal is to test everything and see what works,” Mr Saint-Andre concludes.
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