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Country Highlights

Thailand & its Agricultural Sector: Challenges and Opportunities

Agriculture is a vital part of Thailand’s economy, contributing around 8% of GDP and employing over 30% of the workforce. But the sector faces rising challenges today.

Smallholder farmers struggle with low productivity, high costs, water shortages and increasing extreme weather due to climate change. Key crops like- rice, rubber, palm oil and sugar face volatile prices and shifting export demand dynamics.

Supporting widespread adoption of “smart farming” technologies like sensors, IoT tools, robotics and drones to enhance efficiency and resilience in Thailand

Facilitating agricultural R&D and innovation from universities and private sector. Improving irrigation infrastructure and water management practices. Providing low-cost financing and crop insurance products to strengthen smallholder farmer livelihoods. Connecting farmers directly to supermarkets and export channels.

Adding value locally through food processing and agro-based industries. Promoting organic agriculture and geographical indications to realize premiums

Much of Thailand’s irrigation infrastructure is aging and inefficient. Modernizing systems with drip/sprinkler technology, improving water storage capacity and promoting groundwater management practices can help address water shortages exacerbated by climate change and expanding urban/industrial use.

Thailand aims to become a regional leader in agricultural innovation and R&D. The government is establishing several new research centers focused on high-value crops, biotechnology, food science and climate-resilient practices. Partnerships between public universities, private agribusinesses and farmers will be important to translate new innovations to the field.

Access to financing remains a barrier for many small-scale farmers. Innovative models like agricultural crowdfunding platforms, micro-loans bundled with crop insurance, and partnerships between banks and digital lenders offer opportunities to deepen rural credit availability on affordable terms.

Connecting farmers to end consumers through e-commerce platforms and partnering them directly with supermarket chains gives producers a larger share of profits by cutting out middlemen. This encourages higher-quality standards and traceability that open new market opportunities.

With the right support system, Thailand’s agricultural sector is well-positioned to capitalize on rising global demand for healthy, sustainable and innovative food and plant-based products. This can generate inclusive rural prosperity despite mounting climate and competitive pressures.

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