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Agriculture in Thailand

Thailand is still an agrarian economy and one third of the total land area is used for agriculture. Due to an increase in production efficiency the proportion of the population working on the land dropped from 80% to 65%. Such efficiencies included alternative cultivation methods, improved fertilization, an expansion of the land area under cultivation and especially mechanization.

Rice is the most important agricultural product and it remains a staple food. Thailand is still the world's largest rice exporter, though exports are now slightly decreasing. However, “dry rice” or mountain rice, which is mainly cultivated in the north and northeast, cannot be exported because of its low quality. Wet rice, grown in swamp land is found in central Thailand and about half of this is exported. Since the second world war, Thailand diversified its production in order to be less dependent on rice mono culture.

Alternative exportable products

In the north rice was replaced by corn and more than 70 % of this is exported.
The production of tapioca or cassava flour has increased ten-fold since the mid-sixties. The cultivation of sugarcane and coffee became more significant. Huge progress was made in the production of fruit and vegetables as well.
Thailand has become the worlds largest producer of pineapples, ahead of the Philippines and Brazil. Most of it is produced by small farmers. Only 25% is produced for canning companies.
Rubber plantations are mainly found in the south. They account for 15 % of world production. Thailand is the third largest producer after Malaysia and Indonesia. Almost the whole crop is exported to Japan.

Regarding the export of flowers, Japan is the most important trade partner of Thailand. About 56 million flowers – mainly orchids – are exported.
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