Thai Agriculture

By Gaeble Jones and Payton Hudson

Thailand is one of the top leading countries in the world for rice production and exports, though due to other competitors there has been a decline in the amount of rice being produced. This can drastically change the economy of the country because Thailand is dependent on rice crops bringing in money, which largely disrupts the population growth and agricultural expectations of Thailand as a whole.

Over half of the Thai population is rice farmers, who sell rice throughout the country and export it mainly to Nigeria, China, the United States, and Japan. The population has grown tremendously throughout the years creating land shortages which has decreased rice production. There has also been a steady incline in the cost of owning a rice farm creating less of a profit from the rice keeping their income low. Rice has become a cash crop opposed to a sustenance earning product. A cash crop is a product that is grown to sell for profit where sustenance crops are grown to feed themselves and their families (Hays, 2014).

rice 1

In 2014 Thailand passed India to become the number one leading export for rice production. In that year Thailand was responsible for 11 million tonnes of exported rice, passing India’s 10.9 million tonnes that year. In 2015 though, Thailand experienced a drought during monsoon season which is when most of the rice production is usually taking place. This dropped the Thai rice exports in 2015 to 9.2 million tonnes. In this same year India produced 11 million tonnes of rice. Because there was less rice exported in from Thailand 2015, consumers valued it more, making the price of rice increase in other countries where Thai rice is commonly exported to.

Thailand is rich with fertile soil that can produce crops in both semi-tropical and temperate areas. Thailand can grow a variety of different crops, including some that are classified as tropical and others that are not. The drought in 2015 also affected many of there other crops such as, sugarcane, kenaf, maize, tobacco, pineapples, cassava, etc. Though none of these crops led to the 10% decrease in export/production in the year 2015 as the rice did.

rice 2

In 2016 Thailand was able to produce another 300,000 tonnes of rice which brought them back up to 10.3 million tonnes for that year. That same year China became the largest purchaser of jasmine rice and broken white rice from Thailand. Both governments signed an agreement for 1 million tonnes of jasmine rice and 5% broken white rice to be saved, exported, and sold to China.

According to the Thailand National Statistical Office the agriculture in Thailand produces about $40 billion annually which is about 10% of the country’s gross domestic product for the year (Kawasaki, 2010). This keeps their economy in check and helps sustain a majority of the population. Without the rice farmers exporting the rice to other countries and within the population the economy would suffer and the rice production would decrease.

In 2017, the Thai government advertised that they are going to help rice farmers by handing out $2.2 billion to rice farmers across the country to continue production and decrease the amount of debt within these farms (Niyomyat, 2017). This money will help bring the farmers out of debt and allow them to use some of the rice for sustenance use instead of cash crops. This will help sustain the families with food and still allow them to sell and export the rice for money.

rice 3


Hays, J. (2014). Agriculture in thailand. Retrieved from -asia/Thailand/sub5_8h/entry-3319.html

Kawasaki, J. (2010). Thailand’s rice farmers adapt to climate change. Retreived from https://

Niyomyat, A. (2017). Thailand approves $2.2 billion in help for rice farmers. Retreived from






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