Export Impact For Good

 
Countries / Territories

Country Profile Thailand

  • THAILAND

    Location

    Comprising an area of 514,000 km2 in Southeast Asia, Thailand (formerly known as Siam) extends almost two-thirds down the Malay Peninsula. It is bordered on the North East and East by Laos, on the South East by Cambodia and the Gulf of Thailand (formerly the Gulf of Siam), on the South by Malaysia, on the South West by the Andaman Sea, and on the West and North West by Myanmar, with a total boundary length of 8,082 km. Thailand has a tropical climate. For much of the country there are three distinct seasons: the hot season, from March through May; the rainy or wet monsoon, June to October; and the cool season, November through February.

    Agricultural Sector

    The agricultural sector in Thailand accounts for 9.9% of the GDP and involves 49% of the total labour force. The economic growth recorded by the country in the 1970s and the early 1980s was owed mainly to the steady expansion of the agricultural sector. The sector not only provided for domestic food demand but also produced substantial surpluses of some commodities for export. With 20.4 million hectares of farmland, Thailand relies heavily on agricultural sector (ESCAP). Rice is the major crop grown and Thailand is the world's biggest rice exporter. Other crops grown in the country include: rubber, sugarcane, cassava, fruit, cashew nuts, corn, tobacco, cotton, cocoa, peanuts, soybeans, medical plants, dairy, and fishery products. Fresh flowers, especially orchids, are important exports. The land use is divided as follows: arable land 27%, permanent crops 7%, other 65% (FAO, 2006).


    Brief overview of organic farming

    According to IFOAM & FiBL (2006), there are 13.900 hectares of land under organic management, with a share of total agricultural land of 0.07% and about 2,500 organic farms operating in the country in 2003. Some successful initiatives promoted the expansion of organic agriculture. Although both the domestic market and exports have been growing slowly in the last few years, Thai organic agriculture expanded rapidly and seems to reach a take-off stage. Most organic products are exported to Europe and the USA, but growing concerns on healthy food among Thai consumers further contributes to an expanding demand on organic foods. In 2005, the Thai organic market was valued at US$23 million, up from US$9.4 in 2002 (ITC, 2006).


    Brief overview of key organic products

    The main certified organic products from Thailand are rice, and vegetables. There is also production of cotton, soybeans and shrimps. Almost all certified organic products are currently exported with only a small amount  sold in domestic market. The domestic market for certified organic products is estimated to be slightly below US$ 1 million, the non-certified and health food market is estimated to US$ 75 million (UNEP/UNCTAD, 2006)


    The network

    Thai farmers have practiced traditional farming for hundred of years and was enriched it through farmers' knowledge of local agro-ecology and environmentally sustainable way of farming. Local indigenous knowledge of sustainable farming is still widely spread, favouring policies aimed at promoting organic agriculture (FAO, 2006). In 1980, the Thai organic agricultural movement was initiated by farmers and local NGOS and in 1984 the Alternative Agriculture Network (AAN) was established in 1984 as a national network for sustainable agriculture and organic farming. Producer organizations, private companies, exporters and NGOs have initiated many organic production projects. Government policies towards organic farming have generally been favourable. Many organic farming projects aimed at setting national standards and certification services have been supported by local authorities (IFOAM, 2003). The Thai Department of Agriculture (DOA) established the Organic Crop Institute (OCI) with the aim of setting up an organic crop production standards based on the the Codex Alimentarius Guideline of Organically Produced Food. The Department of Export Promotion (DEP) has also funded some projects supporting organic production and exports. Also the Department of Livestock Development (DLD) and the Department of Land Development have both funded projects aimed at increasing organic production.

    As organic agriculture becomes more popular in Thailand, several organizations working on organic production have emerged. GreenNet and Earth Net Foundation was founded in 1993 and is now one of the leading organizations with an instrumental role in organic conversion. A national private certification body, the Organic Agriculture Certification Thailand ( ACT) founded in 1995 was also set up to provide professional organic certification services for all farm production as well as processing and handling operations.

    Department of Agriculture (DOA)
    Phahonyothin Road Jatujak
    Bangkok - 15900
    Thailand
    Tel: +66 (0)2 5790 1517
    E-mail : itc@doa.go.th
    http://www.doa.go.th/

    Department of Export Promotion (DEP)
    Rachadapisek Office:
    22/77 Rachadapisek Road,Chatuchak,
    Bangkok 10900,
    Thailand
    Tel: +66 (0)2 511 5066
    Fax: +66 (0)2 512 2670
    E-mail: iticdep(at)depthai.co.th
    http://www.thaitrade.com/go/home 

    Department of Livestock Development (DLD)
    Phayathai Road
    Bangkok
    Thailand - 10400.
    Tel: +66 (0)2 6534 444
    Fax: +66 (0)2 6534 925
    E-mail: foreign(at)dld.go.th
    http://www.dld.go.th/webenglish/index.html 

    GreenNet and Earth Net Foundation
    6 Soi Piboonupatam-Wattana Nivej 7,
    Suthisarn Road, Sam-saen-nok,
    Huay-Kwang - 10310
    Bangkok
    Tel: +66 (0)2 277 9380
    Fax: +66 (0)2 277 9654
    E-mail: info(at)greennet.or.th
    http://www.greennet.or.th

    Organic Agriculture Certification Thailand (ACT)
    619/43 Kiatngamwong buildings,
    Tambon Bangken,Muang,
    Nonthaburi - 11000
    Thailand
    Tel: +66 (0)2 580 0934,
    E-mail: actnet(at)ksc.th.com; info(at)actorganic-cert.or.th
    http://eng.actorganic-cert.or.th/
     


    References

    - FAO, 24.10.2006: Key Statistics of Food and Agriculture External Trade. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Statistics Division. http://www.fao.org/es/ess/toptrade/trade.asp?dir=exp&country=3&ryear=2004  and http://www.fao.org/es/ess/top/country.html?lang=en 

    - FAO, IFOAM, and Earth Net Foundation (2003): Proceedings of the Seminar on the Production and Export of Organic Fruit And Vegetables in Asia.
    http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/AD429E/ad429e00.HTM 

    - IFOAM & FiBL (2006): The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistics and Emerging Trends 2006. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Bonn & Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick, pp. 108-117.

    - ITC (2006): Strengthening the Export Capacity of Thailand's Organic Agriculture. Final Report, Geneva.

    - Panyakul, V.R., (2001): Organic Agriculture in Thailand. ESCAP and Earth Net Foundation.

    - Rundgren, G., (2006): Best practices for organic policy: what developing country governments can do to promote the organic sector. UNEP/UNCTAD, 2006.