Betagro aims to build equipment exports
New facility will target emerging economies
Betagro Group, one of the country's largest food processors and exporters, has set its sights on exporting farm equipment to emerging nations now that its manufacturing facility is ready for commercial production.
The company announced its export objective as it launched two products yesterday _ ventilation controller technology (VenTech) and 50-inch energy-saving fans for an evaporative cooling system and for pig farming (PowerTech).
The products have emerged from collaboration between the Betagro Group's subsidiary B International and Technology and King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) carried out under the Industry Technology Assistance Programme (iTAP) of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA).
According to Nopporn Vayuchote, executive vice-president of the Betagro Group, six more projects are in the pipeline: weighing apparatus for measuring feed in silos; heating pads for piglets; biogas production technology; energy-saving inverters for evaporative cooling systems; and energy-saving cooling pads.
Mr Nopporn said equipment from the company's production lines would not only supply the group but also be exported, especially to emerging markets including India, Bangladesh and Nepal, and to neighbouring countries with growing livestock industries such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Betagro has been developing farm equipment for four to five years and Cherdchai Sinsarng, general manager of B International & Technology, estimates that producing its own equipment could save the group more than 100 million baht a year from imports.
B International is committed to setting aside about 3% of the company's sales in research and development and plans to introduce at least two new farm equipment products a year, he said.
B International currently generates about 400-500 million baht sales per year, contributing 1% to Betagro's revenues, which are expected to top 45 billion baht this year.
Thailand's farm equipment market is valued at about four billion baht a year, with imported products valued around 1.5 billion baht. Mr Cherdchai said he did not expect this market to expand this year.
''As livestock prices are not very good at the moment farmers are unlikely to want to replace much of their equipment this year. We therefore expect our sales to see flat growth in 2008,'' said Mr Cherdchai.