Household Dynamics, the Capitalist Economy, and Agricultural Change in Rural ThailandHousehold Dynamics, the Capitalist Economy, and Agricultural Change in Rural ThailandAA1256533X Rural Northeast Thailand in Transition: Recent Changes and Their Implications for the Long-Term Transformation of the Region
273 , 2017-08 , Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
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 rural areas. It draws upon data from different sources. Changes in household dynamics over the past decades have resulted in not only unprecedented below-replacement fertility levels 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, the expansion of the capitalist economy brought about by the Green Revolution and new socioeconomic policies since the early 1960s has opened up new opportunities and choices for rural households to participate in marketoriented 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 landholding, resulting in land concentration. Changes in agriculture are likely to alter other aspects of 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.