Thai Agriculture: Golden Cradle of Millennia

lindsay falvey, 2000 - 459 ページ

The history, science, and social aspects of today’s Thai agriculture is traced from hunters and gatherers through agro-cities through State-religious Empires and immigrating Tai to produce a sustainable agriculture. The wet glutinous rice culture determined administrative structures in a pragmatic society which regularly produced a saleable surplus. Continuing today, these systems consolidated the importance of rice agriculture to national security and economic well-being, as Chinese and European influence benefited agribusiness and initiated the demand which would expand agriculture through population increase until accessible land was expended. As agriculture declined in relative financial importance, it continued to provide the benefits of employment, crisis resilience, self-sufficiency, rural social support, and cultural custody. Agricultural institutions evolved from a taxation and dispute resolution base to provide research, education, and technology transfer at levels below potential as they supported commercial agriculture funded by credit. Agribusiness expanded from the 1960s and small-holders were partly viewed as a past relic which agribusiness could modernise. Unique elements of Thai agriculture include: irrigation technologies; administrative structures based on water control; global leadership in many agricultural commodities; multinational agribusiness; negotiating approaches; potential for further increases from known technologies, and an open culture which has embraced new ideas. One of the world’s few major agricultural exporters, Thailand leads the world in rice, rubber, canned pineapple, and black tiger prawn production and export, the region in chicken meat export and several other commodities, and feeds more the four times its own population from less intensive agriculture than its neighbours. Poised to benefit from expansion in livestock demand, poverty reduction, and improved education, research, and legal and social systems, evident in the recent Asian financial crisis, will be considered with popular concern for socially sensitive alternatives for small-holder farmers to co-exist with commercial agriculture. Thailand will likely remain one of the world’s major agricultural countries in social, environmental and economic terms for the foreseeable future, as it addresses the continuing rural issues of poverty and inequity. 


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