Thailand has been rapidly developing in industries such as manufacturing, retail, and service. However, agriculture is still considered the backbone of economic growth in the country. With most of the population earning their living from agriculture, and its successful exports with its diversified agriculture products, the industry puts Thailand at a comparative advantage over its neighbors in the region.
Thailand's agriculture sector contributes 6% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), lower than industries like logistics and telecommunications. However, it also accounts for 30% of the country’s labor force and remains crucial to Thailand’s economic growth. A long-standing farming tradition and favorable climate conditions enable the industry to produce many of its main exports, such as rice and sugar.
How has Thailand’s agriculture industry evolved in the past decade, and how can it keep up with changing market demands and new technologies available? We look at the opportunities and threats that currently exist in the country.
Thailand's agriculture products have diversified over the last few decades. The country produces many vegetables like crops like cassava, maize, and kenaf. The industry also offers jobs to majority of the Thai population, especially those who did not attain a higher level of education. Its contributions to the economy, while minimal compared to other industries, help bolster economic growth in the country.
Generally, the country reserves around 9% of its national budget for agriculture. However, the government can do more to support Thailand’s agriculture sectors to strengthen the industry and help farmers achieve sustainable growth. Introducing innovations and expanding agriculture products will empower farm workers to increase productivity and become more knowledgeable in farm management.
Climate change also threatens agricultural production in Thailand. These pose risks of soil degradation, water scarcity, and pollution, to name a few. Droughts and floods continue to become more hazardous, especially in Thailand’s northeastern and southern regions. The industry will benefit from educating farm workers in expanding their farming portfolios and educating them about farming instruments that can help them manage despite natural hazards.
To strengthen Thailand’s agriculture industry, it will take policy reforms that will help the government implement measures to create incentives for farmers. The new generation of youth looking to enter Thailand’s agriculture sectors will also need support that will allow them to use innovative techniques and solutions. Investing in the industry’s research and development projects will also spur productive growth for farm workers.
The Thai government can kickstart these efforts by partnering with the private sector to introduce new agriculture technology solutions to farmers. Temperature and moisture sensors, GPS technology, and satellite or aerial imagery can help farmers work towards more efficient and profitable growth.
Farming software and online data will also help farmers make informed decisions and use their resources more sustainably. When the government enables the country’s farm workers to adopt and innovate with modern farming devices, the industry can thrive and further support Thailand’s economic growth.
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