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 Home > About Thailand > Economy > The Agriculture and Mining Sectors

The Agriculture and Mining Sectors


The agriculture sector's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product declined from 39.4 percent in 1961 to 12.2 percent in 1993 due primarily to the rapid expansion of other sectors of the economy. However, agriculture will continue to be a dominant sector of the Thai economy for years to come.

In 1993, farm population comprised approximately 57 percent of the total labour force. If the people indirectly engaged in agri- business industries were also included in the estimate, labour force absorption by agriculture totaled 57.2 percent.

Agriculture exports were the major source of foreign exchange earning during the 1960s and 1970s. However, as Thailand's progress towards industrialization increased, manufactured exports gained importance. In 1993, exports of agricultural products amounted to only about 18.1 percent of total exports compared with the share of 40 percent in 1982.




Field crops, which accounted for 50 percent of agricultural output in 1993, increased at an annual average rate of 8 percent between 1961 and 1993. Agricultural production was still dominated by seven major crops: rice, tapioca, rubber, maize, sugar-cane, mung beans and tobacco leaves , most of which were grown primarily for export.

Since 1970 the increase in crop production have come from both the expansion of cultivated areas and improvements in yields. In response to high agricultural prices, the total area planted has continued to increase. Furthermore, farmers are switching from crops with relatively low returns per hectare to those with higher earnings. Performance, however, varies considerably: sugar-cane, rubber and tapioca yields have been increasing significantly, rice and maize yields growing slowly, and kenaf yield declining. The trend towards crop diversification continues in response to price incentives as the proportion of cropped area devoted to rice declines.

Although the national average rice yield has remained low , recent trend clearly indicates certain structural changes in production. At present, rice cultivation is undertaken in intensive irrigated areas, wet-season irrigated areas, and rainfed areas. Intensive irrigated areas, which enable farmers to produce at least two crops a year, increased phenomenally from 407,488 hectares in 1977/78 to 4,240,000 hectares in 1992/93.

Furthermore, there is ample evidence that yields in both intensive and wet-season irrigated areas have risen sharply during the past five years. About four million hectares of paddy land now benefit from wet-season flood control to keep fields free of excess water which would damage crops. Nevertheless, the remaining six million hectares represent rice production in rainfed areas where limited access to modern technology and inputs results in low yields.




Livestock production is second in importance in the agricultural sector. Between 1988 and 1993, its share of the total GDP of agriculture declined from 1.7 percent to 1.3 percent.

The Government has been trying to improve beef and dairy production through cross-breeding and artificial insemination using high-grade stock imported from United States, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, and Australia. Likewise, indigenous breeds of swine have been improved through cross-breeding with pure-breds imported from abroad. The Livestock Department has set up swine breeding centres throughout the country and has conducted a nationwide artificial insemination programme.

Of all livestock raised for the market, poultry has improved the most. Pure-bred chickens are popular among poultry raisers and research in breeding and management with the aim of improving egg production and feed conversion rate has been conducted with great success. As a result, frozen chickens have become one of the country's important exports.

If you want to read some interesting topics, select the following information :

                        Bounty of the Land and 
                        Sea | Sector Performance 
                        | The Agriculture and 
                        Mining Sectors | Major 
                        Crops | Livestock 
                        | Forestry | Fisheries 
                        | Mining | The 
                        Manufacturing Sector | Tourism 
                        | The Organized Financial 
                        Market | The Bank 
                        of Thailand | Other Sources 
                        of Finance | The Capital 
                        Market | The Role of the 
                        Public Sector | Infrastructural 
                        Support | Public Utilities 
                        | Government Incentives 
                        and Financial Assistance | Foreign 
                        Trade and Balance of Payments | Conclusion 

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