Agriculture in Thailand is undergoing significant change. The present paper addresses this change from a social perspective focusing on the role of household dynamics and expansion of the capitalist economy into the rural area. It draws upon existing data from different sources. Household dynamics over the past decades has resulted in not only unprecedented below-replacement fertility level and small households on average but also labor and land constraints in most rural areas. In this environment rural households are under pressure to modify their farming practices. Meanwhile, expansion of the capitalist economy brought about by the Green Revolution and new socio-economic policies since the early 1960s has opened up new opportunities and choices for rural households to participate in market-oriented production. It is the response of households to this environment that is leading to agricultural transformation in rural Thailand.
Key aspects of agricultural change identified in this analysis include: a shift from subsistence production to market-oriented production, widespread agricultural mechanization and adoption of other new technologies, emergence of agribusiness and large-scale commercial farming, and structural change in land use and land-holding resulting in land concentration.
Changes taking place in agriculture are likely to alter other aspects of the rural life. It is, therefore, important to have a short-term safety-net as well as long-term policy that will lead to a holistic agricultural reform.
March 22, 2017