Population, social, and cultural statistics
It is a well-known fact that there are many external and internal factors which have a great impact on the development of the particular country. For example, before analyzing the condition of agriculture in Thailand, it is necessary to pay attention to its population, social, and cultural features. Almost sixty-nine millions of people live in the country. It is essential that since the 1990s this number is growing. It has become the main reason why the government decided to implement different family planning programs and develop public health policies. In addition, the population in this country is mostly rural. It means that people live in villages, and their main activity is related to agriculture. According to social statistics, in Thailand, there are many different ethnoses. Among them, the most famous are Tai, Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, and Malayo-Polynesian. In some way, it also means that Thailand is a multicultural country with a great variety of languages, beliefs, and nationalities.
Climate description and statistics of the arable lands both in irrigated and dry farming systems
The climate of Thailand is different in many areas of the country. For example, there are lands which need to be irrigated in order to grow vegetables there. There are also territories in the mountains where it often rains. Nevertheless, in most areas, the climate is conducive to vegetables such as wheat, maize, rice, and sugar cane. In winter and at the beginning of March, the weather in Thailand is cool and dry; in summer and autumn, it is tropical with the great range of rainfalls (Marks, 2011). In some way, such conditions are suitable for the development of agriculture. In Thailand, there are fifteen thousands of irrigation schemes. It means that the size of irrigated lands is nearly five hectares. Dry farming systems are poorly developed in the country.
1. Food security and the nutritional systems in the country
1.1. Food self-sufficiency in the country
While discussing such an important issue as self-sufficiency, it is worth to state that Thailand is one of the greatest exporters of vegetable and sea production all over the world. It means that the country is at the macro level. At the same time, it is interesting that “food accessibility at the household level remains a problem, particularly remote rural areas” (Isvilanonda, & Bunyasiri, 2009). It proves that, in many cases, food self-sufficiency depends on many external factors. For example, it may be a global economic crisis or negative weather conditions. None of these factors should be underestimated. The Central Plain and Lower North are two main territories where farmers grow rice. Moreover, in the context of these regions, it is possible to state the surplus and export of rice production. In term of animal products, Thailand is a self-sufficient country.
1.2. FAO or other International Aid programs in the country (if any)
It is extremely important to notice that in order to support the country’s efficiency, Food and Agriculture Organization proposed a special program according to which it is possible to adapt to negative impacts of the weather, reduce economic inequality, and provide a food safety. Nowadays, this program allows planning and forecasting the situation on the market: “The decision to plant was based on the existence of the government farm income scheme, and the drive to utilize the land which might otherwise be left idle, thereby making extra income from it” (Konuma, & Wongsamut, 2016). Moreover, the program encourages the existing communities to take part in planning lands and dividing them on rural, urban, and industrial territories. In term of International Aid programs, Thailand got financial support from the USAID.
1.3. Major agricultural development programs or policies in the country
It is interesting that in order to protect and support rice and maize producers, the government implemented many different programs. For example, it is worth to mention the maize and rice mortgage programs (Singhapreecha, 2014). In addition, there are many programs which are aimed at the improvement of farmers’ quality of life and providing efficient agricultural resources management: “The government policies affecting sustainable agriculture practices that were examined included price, fertiliser, irrigation and agricultural credit policies” (Gypmantasiri, Sriboonchitta, Wiboonpongse, & Limnirankul, 2017). It proves that the government tries to control and regulate different aspects of agriculture.
1.4. Deficits in agricultural development and suggested solutions
While discussing deficits in Thailand agriculture, it is necessary to remember that there is a connection between macroeconomic and agricultural trade policies. Thus, it explains why the crisis in one sector may become the reason for deficits in the other sector: “the entire current account deficit arose from the public sector deficits and led to an implicit taxation of agriculture” (Poapongsakorn, Anuchitworawong, & Mathrsuraruk, 2016). In order to solve the problem with deficits, it is worth to pay more attention to the trade balance which includes both export and import of the production. Furthermore, it is possible to concentrate on reducing the gap between rural and urban incomes.
2. The economic contribution of agriculture in the country economy
2.1. Trends in the value of crop sales in the country
Deterioration of lands, problems with water supply, and unpredictable weather conditions are the main reasons for stating the downward trend of agriculture in Thailand. In term of crop sales, it means that “world prices of major Thai commodity exports have shown a declining long-term trend, leading to a cost-price squeeze” (Poapongsakorn, Anuchitworawong, & Mathrsuraruk, 2016). However, the main successful trend, in the context of crop sales, is exporting rice. Other agricultural cultures may be more sensitive to external conditions. At the same time, selling of sea production also never loses actuality. Unfortunately, the location and climate of Thailand stimulate to remember of the possible natural disasters such as tsunami and storm which can destroy the whole sector.
2.2. Income per capita or per unit investment in agriculture compared to other economic sectors
In comparison with other sectors, agriculture brings the main part of the income to farmers. In some way, it has become a local business which provides people with all necessary issues for life and gives the opportunity to pay debts: “In 1998 to 1999, in-kind income of all farm households increased by 50 to 150 baht per month (or 11–31.5 percent of real cash income in 1997) (Poapongsakorn, Anuchitworawong, & Mathrsuraruk, 2016). In addition, it is comparatively stable income. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to remember about possible risks. Moreover, there is a gap between rural and urban incomes. In large cities such as Phuket, touristic sector brings the main income. It proves that the service sector brings nearly fifty-two percents of the income. Thus, the average income of the person who works in the service sector is eight hundreds of dollars per month.
2.3. Role of the agriculture in national GDP and national per capita income
While discussing the gross domestic product, it is worth to analyze different sources of people’s income. The role of agriculture changes with time. However, it is possible to notice the tendency of the GDP’s rise: “The share of agriculture in GDP fluctuated around 10% over the past decade. In 2001, it was 9.1% and rose to 12.4% by the end of 2010. Four-fifths of the agricultural sector were contributed by crops, in which case rice had steadily declined in its importance, with other crops gaining ground” (Konuma, & Wongsamut, 2016). At the same time, GDP per capita also went up with the time. Nevertheless, among negative tendencies, it is worth to mention the existence of income inequality. In this context, farmers’ income seems not to be significant.
Summary and Conclusion
Thailand is one of the largest agricultural countries which specifies on growing rice, sugar cane, and wheat. Because of the surpluses in this area, the country has the opportunity to export its products. There are many programs and policies which are helpful in term of supporting farmers and protecting their rights. Nevertheless, the efficiency of agriculture depends on many different factors which often cannot be controlled and predicted. This area is nearly nine percents of the national GDP. Among the areas which need to be improved, it is essential to mention food self-sufficiency because concentration only on exporting the production may have a negative impact on the capita income. Finally, there are many difficult aspects in Thailand agriculture which should not be neglected and underestimated. The reason is that all of them help to understand the way in which the agriculture functions in the country. Moreover, they are useful in term of recognizing the possible ways of improvement the current situation and increasing efficiency.
Gypmantasiri, P., Sriboonchitta, S., Wiboonpongse, A., & Limnirankul, B. (2017). Policies that Work for Sustainable Agriculture and Regenerated Rural Economies. Citeseerx. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.482.8437&rep=rep1&type=pdf.
Isvilanonda, S., & Bunyasiri, I. (2009). Food Security in Thailand. Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) Working Paper, pp.1-43.
Konuma, H., & Wongsamut, T. (2016). Country Programming Framework 2012-2016 for Thailand. Fao. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/a-bp583e.pdf.
Marks, D. (2011). Climate Change and Thailand: Impact and Response. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 33 (2), pp. 229-258.
Poapongsakorn, N., Anuchitworawong, C., & Mathrsuraruk, S. (2016). The Decline and Recovery of Thai Agriculture: Causes, Responses, Prospects, and Challenges. Fao.org. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/ag089e/AG089E04.htm.
Singhapreecha, C. (2014). Agricultural Policy Development in Thailand. Fftc. Retrieved from http://ap.fftc.agnet.org/ap_db.php?id=251.