ENTREPREUNARIAL AND FAMILY BUSINESS FARMS IN THAILAND: WHO TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE RUBBER BOOM?

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

Abstract


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.


Keywords


Farm structure; Large Landholdings; Rubber; Thailand

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