The golden cradle of agriculture which nursed and nourished a nation’s development, at least partly with southward migration of Tai peoples over the past millennium, continues to be the envy of the neighbours and the minority of the Tai diaspora which did not become part of Thailand. Thailand’s $2,200 in GNP per capita compared to the world average of $4,890 hides its relative wealth, which is better indicated from comparisons on a purchasing price parity basis which lifts it to 95 percent of the $6,200 world average and raises its global ranking from 102 to 91.” Agriculture as a proportion of Thailand’s GDP fell from over 30 percent in the 1970s to around 10 percent in the 1990s reflecting both the country’s wider economic base, and the global decline in agricultural prices.
Why Thai agriculture is important to the world;Agriculture is important to Thailand
- As the world’s largest rice exporter, and high ranking exporter of other food stuffs, Thailand feeds* some four times its population; that is something around 250 million people. ¢ As the world’s largest rubber producer and exporter, Thailand supports global industries particularly in more developed countries, and influences rubber marketing policies.
- ¢ As the world’s largest producer and exporter of Black Tiger Prawns, Thailand dominates one of the few agricultural sectors which continues to experience rising prices. ¢ One Thai multi-national group, Charoen Pokaphan has grown to become the region’s largest agribusiness conglomerate, ranking in the world’s ten largest such firms.
- ¢ Thailand is the region’s largest exporter of chicken meat and dominates the Japanese market. ¢ An estimated 80 percent of Thai persons are engaged in agriculture and its industries. * Overwhelmingly, the managers of the natural environment of Thailand are farmers, and fishers.
- ¢ The national identity has developed around symbols of agricultural bounty consumed responsibly through images of abundant rice and fish in a benign environment.
- ¢ The Chaophraya River valley developed for irrigated rice production has symbolised an approach to sustainable production. ¢ Thailand has enjoyed foreign investment and relative political stability which have supported development of an infrastructure oriented to agricultural production for export.
- ¢ Over-production of fish, timber, and agricultural commodities has recently degraded the natural environment in which the majority of the population live necessitating informed adaptation of agricultural practices to meet social and environmental needs.