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  1. #1
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    Thailandís low agricultural productivity

    Thailand’s low agricultural productivity

    September 9th, 2009 by Andrew Walker ∑

    Lately I’ve been working on trying to place my detailed ethnographic observations of a village in northern Thailand into a broader national and regional context. I’ve been looking at data from both IRRI and FAO on agricultural productivity. Here are some results from my number crunching this morning. The first graph using data from IRRI (click for a larger image) shows rice yields (tonnes per hectare) for Thailand, Japan, China and Korea along with the Asian average. The second graph using data from FAOSTAT shows garlic yields (kilograms per hectare). I have chosen garlic as it has been the most important cash crop in the northern Thai village where I have been working.



    It’s not a pretty picture for Thailand. There have been modest increases in rice yields but, according to IRRI, Thailand’s yields are among the lowest in the world. This may come as something of a surprise given that Thailand is the largest exporter of milled rice in the world.

    Thai garlic yields have increased significantly more (roughly trebling) but there have been similar increases in both Korea and China, both of which started from a significantly higher base. The gap between Thailand and the others is widening and Thailand is falling well behind the Asian average. Chinese garlic yields are almost three times higher than Thai garlic yields.



    If we want to understand some of the political tensions that have become increasingly evident within Thailand over the past few years, the failure of successive Thai governments to deliver higher agricultural productivity may be one useful place to start.


    Source: Here

  2. #2
    Dan
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    Interesting stuff - at least for me. Any ideas why there's such a discrepancy?

  3. #3
    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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    The garlic comparison may not be fair.
    Can't remember the details now but there was a rucus some time back about chinese garlic.
    They were cheaper than the thai garlic but not as nice so your figures may be comparing two types of garlic.

  4. #4
    Dan
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    It's surprising to see China producing twice as much rice as Thailand per whatever. That's an amazing gap. I thought - perhaps wrongly - that pretty huge chunks of Chinese agriculture were still peasant-based so why such a gap? It'd be interesting to see this against measurements of environmental degradation; how much of that increase is effectively being mined from the soil and fossil aquifers?

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    Thailand Expat madjbs's Avatar
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    Isaan land is not that fertile leading to low yields. Add this to the fact that the market is made up of many small farmers (especially in Isaan) who don't hold land title deeds which allow them to acquire cheap finance for irrigation systems and the like. Add this to the fact that the price of the produce is kept low and the inputs high by the middle men, leading to less ncentive to increase output and you start to understand why productivity is low here.

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    The yields are low ? They just farm the Thai way--steady as she goes,why do more.

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    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madjbs
    which allow them to acquire cheap finance for irrigation systems and the like.
    That could be where the answer lies.
    The output quoted is presumably per year and not per harvest.
    Some land can only be planted once a year some can do three, depends mainly on water supply

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    Thailand Expat madjbs's Avatar
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    The yields from the central plains are much better than those from Isaan due largely to irrigation. In the central plains a lot of the land is owned by landlords who employ tenant farmers to work the land. They have the collateral to invest in irrigation systems etc.. Also there are less government water management programs in Isaan, which is probably somewhat down to social structure and history.

    I would like to see some actual figures comparing yields from different regions if anyone has them?

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    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan
    It's surprising to see China producing twice as much rice as Thailand
    Double cropping has been in practice since the 12th century in China so production being double that of Thailand would be expected. As others have pointed out, there are few areas in Thailand which have the water for 2 crops per year.

    Given the amount of water available from various rivers throughout Isaan, it would be a relatively small investment for the government to irrigate most of the region.

    Getting the farmers to plant 2 crops a year would be difficult given they get so little in return for their labor. Most farmers are small and produce enough with one crop to feed their extended families for a year. Should growing and selling rice become more profitable, you would see far more production.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

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    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madjbs
    I would like to see some actual figures comparing yields from different regions if anyone has them?
    BRIDGING THE RICE YIELD GAP IN THAILAND - Tawee Kupkanchanakul*

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by madjbs
    Isaan land is not that fertile
    I would have guessed at soil fertility as well . . . plus the fact that Chinese farmers were in co-ops for many decades which meant social responsibility to achieve high yield to 'feed the nation' . . . in Thailand perhaps the idea is more to 'feed the family.'

    I would suggest that social pressures play a large part in the discrepancy . . . added to which comparing the Chinese and Korean work ethic with the Thai work ethic is bound to cause differences in output.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gjbkk
    It’s not a pretty picture for Thailand. There have been modest increases in rice yields but, according to IRRI, Thailand’s yields are among the lowest in the world. This may come as something of a surprise given that Thailand is the largest exporter of milled rice in the world.
    you are being very simplistic in your comparisons; see some remarks quoted below

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan
    It'd be interesting to see this against measurements of environmental degradation; how much of that increase is effectively being mined from the soil and fossil aquifers?
    The cost of chemical fertiliser has rocketed with the cost of oil, so many Thai farmers cannot afford to use much of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by madjbs
    Isaan land is not that fertile leading to low yields.
    True, but other areas are quite good. The price paid per kilo to farmers is too low; the middlemen are making all the profit. They were paying only 8 baht per kilo when the price was being quoted at 12/14baht
    Quote Originally Posted by Norton
    Double cropping has been in practice since the 12th century in China so production being double that of Thailand would be expected. As others have pointed out, there are few areas in Thailand which have the water for 2 crops per year.
    Chiang Mai has areas with good water and double cropping is common there. the second crop is usually for "sticky rice", which is for local consumption, or soy beans, which do not add to the figures of rice grown
    I have reported your post

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    Banned Muadib's Avatar
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    Not to mention all of the rice farmer's daughters shuffling around a chrome pole instead of being in Isaan working the fields...

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    those farmers daughters are very fit

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    Its got to get back to education ---there is none --the sons dont go to an Agricultural college to learn and even if they did Father is in charge and his old way is the only way --its this ghastly go nowhere culture in Issan that keeps then slogging their guts out whilst being in perpetual semi poverty ,by the time they are 12 their perfectly healthy brains has ceased to operate did to non use
    Its sad and wasteful but noone is prepared to change things --its suits the rich just as it is

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    Quote Originally Posted by donald36 View Post
    Its got to get back to education ---there is none --the sons dont go to an Agricultural college to learn and even if they did Father is in charge and his old way is the only way --its this ghastly go nowhere culture in Issan that keeps then slogging their guts out whilst being in perpetual semi poverty ,by the time they are 12 their perfectly healthy brains has ceased to operate did to non use
    Its sad and wasteful but noone is prepared to change things --its suits the rich just as it is
    Some people see education (for their kids) as an investment, other as an expense. A couple of generation later, the difference is obvious.

    Beside don't forget alcoholism. I would be interested to know if there is any statistic on the subject.

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    Thailand Expat madjbs's Avatar
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    It has little to do with rice yields. Educated people do not need to do hard manual work for a couple hundred baht a day. There is no incentive to produce much more considering the price of the produce and the price of the needed investment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by madjbs View Post
    It has little to do with rice yields. Educated people do not need to do hard manual work for a couple hundred baht a day. There is no incentive to produce much more considering the price of the produce and the price of the needed investment.
    I see what you say but even rice farming needs education ---even after being cheated if you produce more using the right system ,and correctly calculating and applying the right imputs you must earn more

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    Quote Originally Posted by donald36 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by madjbs View Post
    It has little to do with rice yields. Educated people do not need to do hard manual work for a couple hundred baht a day. There is no incentive to produce much more considering the price of the produce and the price of the needed investment.
    I see what you say but even rice farming needs education ---even after being cheated if you produce more using the right system ,and correctly calculating and applying the right imputs you must earn more

    And with education, they can even avoid being cheated ...

  20. #20
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    Could be that they're all planning the next protest instead of planting rice?

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    the low yield could be explained by low prices, hence no incentives to produce more and maximize land return

    also no possibility to do the necessary investment to increase the yield

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    Thailand Expat madjbs's Avatar
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    The cause of the low price is due to the market structure. Low number of buyers, large number of sellers. That is always going to be difficult to change.

    The government also keeps the prices low to benefit the urban consumers using a hidden export tax called the rice premium. The government will argue it benefits all Thais, but, in reality it only benefits people in those areas not involved in rice production. For the farmers, it means they get much less money for their crop.

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    ^ see, so the low yield actually make sense

    higher yield would be achieved if there were fewer farmers, concentrating means of production, and investing sufficiently

    low yield means a lot of farmers to meet production demand at low cost, while keeping a large population busy

  24. #24
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    What is the yield PER FARMER,as opposed to per area.I often see lone people in fields planting.They are not going to achieve a lot like that.

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