Thailand Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Thailand Facts

Thailand is a popular holiday destination and is known for its friendly people and beautiful nature as well as its stunning sandy beaches.
Capital: Bangkok

The official language is Thai

Currency is Baht

Passport and visa: A Finnish citizen can stay in Thailand as a tourist for 30 days without a visa. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months upon arrival in the country.

Time difference to Finland: +5 Daylight saving time is not used.

Agriculture and fishing

Thailand’s agricultural production is extensive and the country is one of the world’s largest exporters of rice. Agriculture is important for employment, but the industry’s share of GDP has fallen from almost a third in 1968 to just under a tenth at the end of the 2010s.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Thailand. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

Almost half the land area is used for agriculture. The most important cultivation areas are located in central Thailand, along the Chao Phraya River north of Bangkok.

The country’s successful investment in rise exports is mainly due to the high quality of the crop. Jasmine rice accounts for over a third of rise exports. The production increase has been doubled since the 1970s. At the same time, the share of the labor force working in agriculture has decreased to one third. The rice crops usually get their water through rain, but some of central Thailand’s large rice fields are irrigated.

The Yingluck government (2011–2014) introduced a program for subsidies and government purchases of rice from the farmers. The aim was to give the growers more pay for the rice as well as more secure income. But the program became expensive for the state and scrapped in early 2014. By then, Thailand had lost competitiveness to other rise-exporting countries such as India and Vietnam. Nevertheless, the military junta that took power in May 2014 continued to subsidize the peasants (see Economic overview). For Thailand defense and foreign policy, please check recipesinthebox.

Large exporter of chicken

Since the 1960s, more and more areas have been set aside for rice cultivation. In the north, maize, cassava, cotton and pineapple are grown. In the south, rubber trees are grown. Other important crops are sugar cane, coconuts and soybeans.

Thailand is also one of the world’s largest exporters of chicken. Due to an outbreak of avian influenza in 2004, import bans for Thai chicken were introduced in several regions, such as the EU. As a result, sales dropped dramatically. As the documented cases of bird flu have become fewer, the industry has slowly recovered.

Thailand’s once-vast forests have shrunk rapidly. Counting only the dense, high-quality forest is no more than about ten percent of the area forested. The decrease is due to a combination of commercial felling and clearing for new planting, wood collection and construction. In order to protect the forest, reserves have been formed, but efforts to replant have been few. In 1989, the regime imposed a total ban on commercial felling. It has been difficult to verify compliance with the ban, but the timber industry is now almost entirely dependent on imports of timber from Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Laos.

Fish fishing with problem

Thailand has one of Asia’s largest sea fishing fleets. The country more than doubled its catches between 1980 and 1995. The increase was a result of agreements with Oman, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Myanmar to fish in remote waters. The coastal waters are almost depleted. In addition, Thai fishermen have been affected by high fuel costs and increased competition from China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Nevertheless, Thailand is one of the world’s largest exporters of cultivated shrimp and canned tuna.

Sometime in the 2010s, Thailand received sharp criticism from environmental and human rights organizations for the fact that seafood fishing was carried out by illegal methods and that human smugglers provided the industry with guest workers from countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia, who were forced to work under slave-like conditions. In April 2015, the EU, which is one of Thailand’s largest purchasers of seafood, warned that the Union could impose import bans on Thai seafood for environmental and human rights reasons. The Thai government responded by appointing a special group with the task of cleaning up the industry.

In February 2016, the group announced that over 70,000 former illegal foreign workers had now been registered and worked in the fishing industry or on fishing boats. In March of that year, the group announced that 102 people had been brought to trial for human trafficking, of which 36 had been sentenced to prison. The group also said it saved 130 victims of human trafficking. It is estimated that around 130,000 workers were still unregistered.

In January 2019, the EU struck the warning of import bans on seafood from Thailand after improving both fishing methods and working conditions for fisheries workers.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

8.1 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

43.3 percent (2016)

  • Offers how the 3-letter acronym of THA stands for the state of Thailand in geography.



The Democratic Party boycott the election

The Democratic Party announces that it is boycotting the election in February 2014.

Abhisit is charged with murder

Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democratic Party is charged with two murders in connection with the military’s strike against the 2010 red shirts, when he was head of government. Abhisit denies the charges and is released on bail. Suthep is also charged with the murder.

Continued demands on Yingluck’s departure

The government-critical demonstrations continue with demands that a non-democratically appointed “people’s council” take over government power. This is a requirement that Yingluck cannot accept.

New elections are announced

The protesters soon return to Bangkok’s streets. On December 8, the Democratic Party will leave Parliament in protest of the government’s retention. The next day, Yingluck announces that new elections will be announced until February 2, 2014. She will dissolve parliament. The government is still waiting for the new election.

The protesters are temporarily dispersed

When the protesters try to get into the government building and the police headquarters, the police change tactics and remove the barricades and let the protesters enter the areas. The government and police management are at that point elsewhere. The measure temporarily calms down the situation. The protesters are celebrating, while the government continues to rule the country.

Violent crawling

The protests erupt in riots as protesters try to storm the government office. Police respond with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and water cannons. Yingluck reiterates that she does not intend to resign or announce new elections, but she maintains that the military should not be deployed and that she is open to talks with protesters. Demonstration leader Suthep says his goal is for the country to be governed by a non-elected council instead of a people-elected government.


Bangkok is again paralyzed by demonstrations

Attempts (unsuccessful ones) by the government to issue amnesty for crimes committed during the yellow and red shirt demonstrations and occupations lead to tens of thousands of protesters walking the streets of Bangkok in protest against the government. The protests are referred to as the largest since 2010. The protesters are taking over a TV station and are also trying to get into the government office. The purpose is to prevent the authorities from functioning and thus cripple the government. Yingluck gives police increased powers to block streets and impose curfews, but she stresses that the military should not be deployed.

Disputed temple belongs to Cambodia

The International Court of Justice in The Hague states that the disputed land areas around Preah Vihear belong to Cambodia. The Court calls on Thailand to withdraw its soldiers, police and border guards from the areas.


The founders of the yellow shirts are sentenced to prison

Sondhi Limthongkul, the founder of the yellow shirts, is sentenced to two years in prison for majestic crimes when in a speech in 2008 he cited a dissent. On the same day, a woman is sentenced to five years in prison for majestic crimes in a blog post.


Prison for the attacks against Israelis

A Thai court sentenced two Iranian men to life and 15 years in prison respectively for their roles in the attempted attacks in Bangkok against Israeli citizens (see February 2012).


Ceasefire in the south is followed by new attacks

Nine people are killed in a series of blast attacks and ambushes in the southern province of Narathiwat. The victims include both police and civilians. The deed comes after the government and Malaysian rebels agreed to cease fire during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.


Eight dead in rebel attack in the south

Eight government soldiers are killed by a road bomb in Yala province. The attack is seen as another protest against the ongoing peace talks.

Rice subsidies are reduced

The government cuts down on the expensive rice subsidies, which provokes anger at For Thailand’s strongest voter base, the rice farmers in the Northeast. As a result, Prime Minister Yingluck is reforming the government. She kicks the responsible Minister of Commerce and takes over the post of Defense Minister herself.


New conversations and more violence in the south

A handful of armed men shoot straight into a store in a village in Pattani province in the south. Six Buddhists are killed, including an infant. It is not clear who is behind the assault. This happens shortly after a second round of talks between Thailand and BRN.


Attempts at constitutional amendments are stopped by the court

Constitutional Court Stops Government Party For Thailand’s attempt to make constitutional changes.


Call round about peace in the south is held

The first round of talks is held in Kuala Lumpur between Thai government officials and a group of representatives of the BRN (see February 2013). BRN’s negotiating group is led by Hassan Taib, well-known advocate for increased self-government for the South. The talks are primarily aimed at reducing the violence in the three provinces and so-called confidence-building measures. It is unclear how much influence BRN has over other rebel groups in the area, as well as how much influence Taib has over the relatively large BRN grouping. Taib has previously called on Thailand to withdraw its forces from the disputed provinces and grant amnesty to imprisoned rebels. None of this is Thailand’s negotiating group ready to discuss. No representatives of the Thai military participate in the talks.


Peace talks agreement in the south

The Thai security service and one of the Muslim rebel groups, Patani’s Malaysian Revolutionary Front (Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani, BRN), enter into an agreement to start peace talks. The agreement is reached after Malaysian mediation in Kuala Lumpur. A day later, six people were injured in an explosion at a marketplace in Narathiwat.

Sixteen dead in rebel attack in the south

Sixteen insurgents are killed by the military when they attack a military posting in the province of Narathiwat in the south. No casualties in the army are reported. According to military sources, up to 60 rebels must have participated in the attack, which is described as the most serious in several years in the south (see Southern Thailand).


Two red shirts are imprisoned for majestic crimes

A leading member of the red shirts, comedian Yossawaris Chuklom with artist name Jeng Dokchik, is sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the royal house in a speech in conjunction with the Red Shirts protests in 2010. Later that month, editor and red-shirt supporter Somyot Pruksakemsem is sentenced insulted the royal house in two articles he published under pseudonym in his own journal 2010. Somyot advocates a revision of the law on majestic crimes, which can give long prison sentences to those found guilty of insulting monarchy laws that the red shirts consider royalists, yellow shirts other oppositional forces utilize in the ongoing power play.

Thailand Agriculture and Fishing