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Thai agritech startup Ricult raises USD 2 million in pre-Series A round

With the lowest rainfall recorded this year, Thailand is facing the worst drought in 40 years, with an estimated loss of USD 1.5 billion.

Thai agritech startup Ricult has closed its pre-Series A round, bagging USD 2 million, the company announced on Tuesday. The company uses deep tech, AI, and machine learning to improve efficiency in the agricultural value chain in Thailand, aiming to lift farmers out of poverty.

The pre-Series A round, led by Bualuang Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Bangkok Bank, and Krungsri Finnovate, the corporate venture capital unit of Bank of Ayudhya, has brought the company’s total seed funding to USD 5 million.

The company plans to use the fresh funds to expand its presence in the domestic market and to further develop its products to fulfill its users’ diverse needs. It will also scale up and expand to neighboring countries like Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The company was founded in 2016 by four MIT alumni coming in from Microsoft, Google, Accenture, and Telenor. It has secured seed funding from angel investors and venture capital firms, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, dtac Accelerate, Chanwanich Group, Wavemaker, and 500 Tuktuks.

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Disrupting the value chain amid an ailing economy

“Often, many farmers are still using natural farming where it is impossible to assess productivity or various environmental factors,” said Aukrit Unahalekhaka, co-founder & CEO of Ricult in Thailand.

With the help of satellite imagery to process data, the firm informs farmers on when to irrigate and harvest their fields, provides product price information and a chat service with experts.

“Farmers will be able to assess risks more accurately as it can forecast up to nine months in advance,” Unahalekhaka added.

Thailand’s smart farming market is expected to grow from USD 128.7 million in 2018 to USD 269.9 million in 2022, according to estimates by German data provider Statista.

But its agricultural sector, despite being crucial to the country’s economy, has been hit hard by drought in the recent years.

With the lowest rainfall recorded this year, Thailand is facing the worst drought in 40 years, with an estimated loss of 46 billion baht (USD 1.5 billion) or 0.27% of the country’s GDP in agricultural production, according to Bank of Ayudhya’s Krungsri Research.

The setback from the agricultural sector, coupled with the tourism slump caused by COVID-19, have further hit the ailing economy, which has shrank by 12.2% in the second quarter this year, according to government figures released on Monday.