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Agriculture in Thailand needs structural/political support

Without support programs or policies, Thai farmers are getting squeezed by a host of social drivers, putting the profession itself under threat.

The Strategic Foresight Group writes that Thailand is witnessing a rapid decline in the number of farmers. The Strategic Foresight Group focuses on the lack for structural support for farmers,

"The rapid push towards industrialisation is also seen as one of the causes behind the drastic fall in the number of farmers. The lack of structural support has aggravated the farmers' problems as the absence of genuine land reform, redistribution programmes and farmers' cooperatives are some of the key factors behind this decline. Low investment is also seen as another major reason."

Without many of these, farmers have no political power or support and are more vulnerable to broader social shifts, which include the younger generation avoiding farming in pursuit of education and services professions and the economy of industrial agriculture, which requires capital debt to pay for fertilizer and machinery. This contributes to a situation in which the Thai farming economy isn't as lucrative and few younger farmers are ready or willing to take over farms from their parents.

Implications

The Strategic Foresight Group highlights that if the industrial or service sectors in the country develop to accommodate more workers, the number of people abandoning farming may drastically increase, leading to future food insecurity. IFTF adds that if agriculture declines as the sole or primary livelihood of rural Thailand, it could drastically change rural living and result in accelerating urbanization, as people leave the country for the cities.

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Sources:

The Strategic Foresight Group, July 2010, page 16: http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/SFG_July2010.pdf#page=16

‘The Future of Farming in Thailand’. Bangkok Post. 15 May 2010.
<http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/37349/the-future-of-farming-in-thailand>

‘Off-farm Income and Education in rural Thailand’. The New Mandala (Blog). 09 December 2009.
<http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2009/12/10/off-farm-income-and-education-in-ruralthailand/>

NationMaster – World Statistics, Country Comparisons.
< http://www.nationmaster.com/country/th-thailand/agr-agriculture>