What Matters To Me: Aukrit Unahalekhaka, Co-Founder Of Ricult
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.
Aukrit Unahalekhaka is on a mission to improve the lives of farmers across Thailand, Pakistan and beyond. The 29-year-old MIT graduate is co-founder and chief product officer of social enterprise Ricult, established in 2016, which uses machine learning and satellite technology to help farmers increase productivity and profitability.
Here, Unahalekhaka introduces his work in his own words.
I witnessed at first-hand the difficulties small-scale farmers face from a young age. My family owns an agricultural business, which exposed me to the struggles of farmers. That’s really what inspired me to do what I am doing now. It has been my lifelong goal to use technology to help improve the lot of farmers, who are the backbone of our country. We use advanced technology such as machine learning and satellites to help farmers enhance their productivity, increase their access to markets and secure more affordable loans.
We believe that we have the right technology to expand across borders to help farmers in other developing countries, and we are already working in Pakistan. I am glad thousands of farmers are using our technology. In Thailand we are focusing on the provinces of Lopburi, Saraburi and Korat [all in central Thailand], particularly helping corn and cassava farmers. Our mission this year is to expand to the whole country to include rice, sugarcane and durian farmers as well. We aim to reach and positively impact at least 100,000 farmers within the next three years and to increase their income by 50 percent.
It has been my lifelong goal to use technology to help improve the lot of farmers, who are the backbone of our country
— Aukrit Unahalekhaka
The biggest challenge for me is making sure we have a world-class technology team developing user-friendly solutions that can transform the agricultural sector and help Thai farmers to have a better life.
Ricult is now officially the most funded social enterprise ever in Thailand. Our total funding to date is close to US$2.5 million. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of our investors. Ricult is a double bottom-line startup. We don’t only care about the financial profitability of the company, but also the social impact we can create for smallholder farmers and their communities.