The Thai Harvest Initiative at Drexel University

For 700 years, the 30,000 people of Bo Klua have subsisted on rice grown by hand on steep, rocky slopes. They want to remedy three major agriculture challenges:

  • Chronic pain is common for people of all ages because only rudimentary tools are available and the terrain is difficult.
  • Rice farming consumes nearly all their time.
  • Some go hungry because yields are low.

Our interdisciplinary teams design agricultural tools and techniques to address all three challenges. We believe that technology can’t just work technically – it must also work for people socially, economically, and environmentally. So, our designs rely on local materials and capabilities, minimize costs to end users, minimize complexity, and more. Using the Technology Seeding approach, farmers and their advocates are integral to the design process, and our primary deliverables are open-source pictorial manuals. This empowers them to design, adapt, build, and control each device and beyond. Our partnership with local humanitarian organization the Sustainable Development Research Foundation (SDRF) supports design quality, continuity, communication, scale-up, and more.


In 2010-2011, we introduced a rice planter (see video below). This year we are developing a weeder, and would appreciate your support!. Our field implemenation in June will advance the planter, introduce the weeder, and train farmers in design and fabrication.


View our 2-minute video on the rice planter below, or click here for the 4-minute "adventure cut!"