Benedicte Chambon, Pierre-Marie Bosc, Arunee Promkhambut, Kanchana Duangta


Following the high rubber prices in the second half of the 2010s, rubber plantations expanded greatly especially in Southeast Asia. Smallholders were important actors of the recent rubber boom. However, large landholdings and foreign investments were also very present in some Southeast Asian rubber producing countries leading some researchers to ask whether we are witnessing resurgence of plantations in tropical Asia. Looking at entrepreneurial rubber farms in Thailand, the first producer of natural rubber in the world, where very little information is available on this type of farms, is one way to contribute to the debate. After identifying large rubber holdings using secondary data completed by some field explorations, we conducted a survey on a limited number (13) of large rubber holdings. Qualitative analysis revealed that the recent development of large plantations in the rubber sector was actually limited in Thailand, and that this (limited) expansion of large rubber plantations mainly involved family business farms. Together with family farms, these family business farms largely contributed to the recent expansion of rubber plantations rather than entrepreneurial farms. In addition, these large landholdings shared several similar technical and organizational patterns with smaller family farms. Finally, Thailand represents a specific pattern of change in farm structure in which family farms have always persisted over enterprise farms. Family business farms are a type of farm structure that now appears to be expanding. In addition to continuing to support small and medium family farms, government policies should consider such changes in farm structure and provide support to improve the technical management of these developing forms of production. In parallel, support should be provided to help maintain the smallholdings thereby limiting land concentration when it is not wanted by the owners.


Farm structure; Large Landholdings; Rubber; Thailand

Full Text:



Alobo Loison, S. 2015. Rural livelihood diversification in Sub-Saharan Africa: A literature review. Journal of Development Studies, 51(9): 1125-1138, DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2015.1046445

Bauer, P. T., 1948. The rubber industry. A study in competition and monopoly. The London School of Economics and Political Science. Longmans, Green and Co, London, New York, Toronto.

Bélières, J. F., Bonnal, P., Bosc, P. M., Losch, B., Marzin, J., and Sourisseau, J. M. 2015. Family farming around the world. Definition, contributions and public policies. Collection A savoir n°28. AFD, CIRAD, Paris, http://www.afd.fr/webdav/site/afd/shared/PUBLICATIONS/RECHERCHE/Scientifiques/A-savoir/28-VA-A-Savoir.pdf

Bernstein, H. 2002. Land reform: taking a long(er) view. Journal of Agrarian Change, 2(4): 433-463, DOI: 10.1111/1471-0366.00042

Bissonnette, J.F. and R. De Koninck. 2017. The return of the plantation? Historical and contemporary trends in the relation between plantations and smallholdings in Southeast Asia. The Journal of peasant Studies, 44(4):918-938, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2017.1311867

Borras, S.M. and J.C. Franco. 2012. Global Land Grabbing and Trajectories of Agrarian Change: A Preliminary Analysis. Journal of Agrarian Change, 12(1):34-59, DOI:10.1111/j.1471-0366.2011.00339.x

Byerlee, D. 2014. The fall and rise again of plantations in Tropical Asia: history repeated? Land, 3:574-597, DOI:10.3390/land3030574

Chambon, B., F. Ruf, C. Kongmanee, S. Angthong. 2016. Can the cocoa cycle model explain the continuous growth of the rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) sector for more than a century in Thailand? Journal of Rural Studies, 44: 187-197, DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2016.02.003

Chambon, B., X.L. Dao, U. Tongkaemkaew, F. Gay. 2017. What determine smallholders' fertilization practices during the mature period of rubber plantations in Thailand? Experimental Agriculture: 1-18, DOI: 10.1017/S0014479717000400

Chouhan, P. and I. Bhowmik. 2017. Labour market conditions of natural rubber plantations in Tripura: an inquiry. Social Change and Development, vol. XIV:55-69

FAO. 2007. A system of integrated agricultural censuses and surveys, volume 1 World Programme for the Census of Agriculture 2010, statistical development series, 11 FAO, Rome

FAO. 2012. Trends and impacts of foreign investment in developing country agriculture. Evidence from case studies. FAO, Rome

Fox, J. and J.C. Castella. 2013. Expansion of rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) in Mainland Southeast Asia: what are the prospects for smallholders? The Journal of Peasant Studies, 40(1):155-170, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2012.750605

Global Witness. 2013. Rubber barons. How Vietnamese companies and international financers are driving land grabbing crisis in Cambodia and Laos. Global witness limited, London

Hayami, Y. 2002. Family farms and plantations in tropical development. Asian Development Review, 19(2):67-89

Kenney-Lazar, M. 2012. Plantation rubber, land grabbing and social property transformation in southern Laos. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(3-4):1017-1037, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2012.674942

Kongmanee, C. 2015. Path dependence of agrarian change: an institutional economic analysis of the rubber economy in Southern Thailand. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Montpellier SupAgro, France.

Larsson, T. 2007. Intertextual relations: the geopolitics of land rights in Thailand. Political Geography, 26:775-803, DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2007.05.003

Losch, B., S. Fréguin-Gresh, E.T. White. 2012. Structural Transformation and Rural Change Revisited: Challenges for Late Developing Countries in a Globalizing World. World Bank, Washington DC

Petric, B. 2011. The land rush. Transnational strategies for land grabing. Transcontinentales [online] 10/11. Online since 21 December 2011

Podhisita, C. 2017. Household Dynamics, the Capitalist Economy, and Agricultural Change in Rural Thailand. Southeast Asian Studies, 6(2):247-273, DOI: 10.20495/seas.6.2_247

Russo, M, Bouquet E. and Chambon B. 2017. Sharing more than rubber: the economic and social lives of share-tapping contracts in Southern Thailand. 11èmes Journées de recherché en Sciences Sociales (SFER), 14-15 December 2017 Lyon

Sakarindr, P. 1979. An econometric study of Thai rubber industry and the world rubber market. Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 6620.

Sainoi, T., S. Sdoodee, R. Lacote, E. Gohet. 2017. Low frequency tapping systems applied to young-tapped trees of Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex A. Juss.) Müll. Arg. in Southern Thailand. Agriculture and Natural Resources, 51(4): 268-272, DOI: 10.1016/j.anres.2017.03.001

Somboonsuke, B., and P. Wettayaprasit. 2013. Agricultural system of natural Para Rubber smallholding sector in Thailand: system, technology, organization, economy, and policy implication. Hat Yai: Department of Agricultural Development, Prince of Songkla University.

Stifel, L.D. 1973. The growth of the rubber economy of Southern Thailand. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 4(1) :107-132 , DOI : 10.1017/S0022463400016441

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20956/jars.v2i2.1481


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

JARS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

website hit counters