Thailand: Leading Jasmine Rice Exporters

The cultivation of rice in Thailand is responsible for contributing significantly both to the country’s economy and to its workforce. In 2017, the total value of all rice that was exchanged in Thailand was 174.5 billion baht, which is equivalent to around 12.9% of total agricultural output. 

One estimate puts the number of rice farmers in Thailand at 16 million, out of a total workforce of 40 that is employed in agriculture. Rice cultivation has a significant historical significance in Thailand. It is the fifth-greatest area of land in the world that is used for rice farming, and it is the second-largest rice exporter in the world. 

Thailand has plans to significantly expand the land accessible for rice production, with the objective of adding 500,000 hectares to its existing 9.2 million hectares of rice-growing regions. This would bring the total amount of rice-growing land in Thailand to 9.2 million hectares. Rice is grown over an area equal to or more than half of Thailand’s total cultivated land. Through this article, let us unwrap Thailand’s rice production behind the numbers stated above.

How is rice farmed in Thailand?  

  • Before being processed by Thailand rice manufacturers, the farmers’ rice-planting season typically begins in the month of May. At this point in the year, rain showers indicate that the dry season will soon come to an end, and farmers start getting ready to plant rice once again. This marks the transition from one yearly cycle to the next. 

Because the majority of Thai farmers are required to wait for seasonal rain before planting their annual rice harvest, they are often forced to contend with the challenges presented by drought, which means that there may not be sufficient rainfall for crop cultivation. 

The solution that the farmers came up with was to develop canals that would channel water into their rice crops. At the same time, they hold various rituals and rites to pray for the land’s fertility, including those meant to bring rain. Typical of these rituals are the rocket festivities that take place near Gecko Villa around the time of the Thai New Year.

  • The mud walls that surround the rice fields serve the purpose of confining the water inside the paddies. It is possible to transport water down from upper fields to irrigate lower ones by making holes in these mud barriers and moving them.

After the seedlings have been planted, they are later transplanted at a greater distance, one from the next. This is almost always done through a particularly backbreaking operation that is frequently accompanied by generous shots of rice whisky (lao khao) or its local, sweeter moonshine variety, lao sathaw. 

Once the rice seedlings have been planted, they are later transplanted at a greater distance one from the next. The rice then benefits from the rains during the green season, which typically lasts until sometime around September. 

  • Under the sun’s intense heat, the color of the rice changes from emerald green to a deeper green and then eventually to a dry gold. It should be harvested by the end of November at the latest. 
  • In the earliest hours of the day, farmers take sickles with them into the fields to harvest. After being bundled into sheaves and transported, the rice is threshed, and it may next be processed. The rice that has been chopped is put out on the fields to dry for many days.

What is the secret to successful rice farming? 

A novel approach to regenerative rice agriculture is now being tested out in order to restore long-term soil fertility with fewer inputs and water while also offering rice smallholder farmers the opportunity to diversify their revenue crops. 

In the provinces of Angthong and Chainart in Thailand, 150 farmers have been recruited to receive training in innovative rice cultivation technology. This training will cover topics such as soil nutrient and fertility management, crop diversification, integrated pest management, biocontrol, weed control, financial fertility, and other topics. 

The goal of this training is to guide farmers to grow better rice, which will, in turn, improve their living income and the fertility of the soil. In addition, the participants in the initiative made a commitment to purchase all of the rice of a better grade that was grown using the cutting-edge agricultural technique. 

The success of this novel method of rice growing will be determined by the increase in farmers’ incomes, which will result in a larger yield and reduced production costs, as well as a higher rate of farmers adopting the technique. The next step will be increasing the capacity of this cutting-edge technology which Thailand’s rice exporter will also benefit from its success.

Which crop has the highest demand in Thailand?  

Rice is the most significant crop grown in Thailand, with over 60% of the country’s 13 million farmers cultivating it on nearly 50 percent of the country’s arable land. On the global rice market, Thailand is a significant player as an exporter with many Thai rice suppliers

The value of rice exported in 2014 was equivalent to 1.3 percent of the GDP. It is estimated that 9-10.5 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product comes from agricultural products. Jobs directly connected to agriculture are held by forty percent of the population. The farmland they work on was estimated to be worth $2,945 U.S. dollars per rai (1,600 square meters) in 2013.

Thailand is the world’s sixth-largest producer of rice. A significant portion of the rice is consumed inside Thailand since rice plays such an important role in Thai culture. The phrase that we use to indicate that we are hungry is “Kin Kao,” which may be translated as “consume rice.” It is consumed throughout the morning, day, and night in a wide variety of foods and preparations.

Here are some of the varieties of rice that are consumed most often in Thailand:

  • Jasmine rice, also known as Hom Mali or Thai Fragrant rice, is the most popular kind of rice in Thailand and is considered to be the country’s primary source of nutrition.
  • Glutinous or Sticky Rice, also known as Khao Neow, may be identified by its milky, opaque appearance as well as its shorter grains.
  • The bran layer of the rice is kept intact, which gives brown rice and brown sticky rice (also known as Khao Dum or Khao Neow Dum) their dark reddish-black color and somewhat gritty texture. These characteristics give brown rice and brown sticky rice their names.

Rice Farming System in Thailand

Since the 1990s, the policy of the government has sought to persuade and subsidize farmers to shift toward “sustainable agriculture.” This term has been variously interpreted as integrated farming systems, diversified farming, good agricultural practices (GAP), or organic farming. This policy is implemented with the goal of minimizing the negative impact of agriculture on the environment. 

The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s “new idea of agriculture,” which was a component of his ideology of a “sufficiency economy,” has been cited as a major source of strong ideological support for this initiative. This highlights the need for proper farm management in achieving either self-sufficiency in food production or food security for farmers.

  • The focus placed on sustainable agriculture stimulates crop variety, a move away from agricultural intensification, a reduction in the use of non-organic fertilizers and pesticides, as well as the promotion of organic agriculture and the consumption of healthy food. Farmers who are interested in training programs and receiving subsidized loans have the opportunity to take part in a variety of different programs that have been created in order to encourage sustainable agriculture. 
  • In 2016, the military government’s National Rice Policy and Management Committee (NRPMC) initiated a scheme that paid qualified farmers subsidies to stop planting rice in areas deemed to be unsuitable and to develop integrated farming systems, including on-farm irrigation, fish, and livestock. 
  • In exchange, the farmers agreed to stop planting rice in areas deemed to be unsuitable and to develop integrated farming systems. Although there is some question over the correctness of the zoning, official maps indicate that the majority of land that is not appropriate for producing rice is situated in the Northeast. However, there are several exceptions to this rule.

To sum it up…

Since ancient times, Thailand has been referred to be the “rice bowl of Asia.” Rice is not only the most common and widely eaten meal in Thailand, but it is also an essential component of Thai cultural practices. 

Rice has played a significant role in Thai history and culture for thousands of years; in fact, some scholars think that the cultivation of rice predates the advent of Buddhism in Thailand. Thai society places significant importance on rice owing to the many health advantages that it provides. 

In Thailand, there are around 3,500 different types of rice, ranging from indigenous wild rice varieties to newly developed ones. Some of these species have just recently been discovered. 

Today, Thailand is not only one of the top rice producers in the world but also the largest rice exporter in the world. Rice is such an integral part of Thai culture that the word for “eat” (kin Khao) is literally translated as “eat rice.” 

A meal in Thailand is not considered complete unless it includes rice. The significance of rice in Thai culture has been passed down from one generation to the next and continues to have as much weight as it did in the past. If you want to know more about Thailand’s rice production, visit for additional information.


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