The agriculture sector’s contribution to GDP has fallen from an average of 32.19% during the 1960s to 23.2% in 1980 and 9% in 2000. However, by 2007 the share had risen to 10.7%, and recent estimates have suggested that the sector now accounts for some 13% of GDP. With its products renowned throughout the world, particularly its rice, Thailand has also been an important international granary at times of global food need. Today, however, the sector faces some important challenges as it seeks to develop further. Debate surrounds the role of the state in the sector’s future, particularly regarding the government’s rice support policies. Locally, raising productivity and managing the agricultural labour market are also proving challenging. Despite a reduction in the number of farmers, the sector has been able to reverse the long-term decline in its share of GDP thanks to a shift in policy towards higher-value, more specialised products, as well as increased mechanisation, diversification, and productivity.
The political framework governing agriculture, particular the rice and rubber segments, is still the source of some risk. Despite challenges, however, Thailand remains a global agricultural player. There is much to be developed, which could create major opportunities for investors in the years to come.
This chapter contains an interview with Krisda Monthienvichienchai, CEO and President, Mitr Phol.