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The "agrarian system" consists of the "institutional, economic, socio- organizational, and ethical patterns found in the agricultural sector and rural areas that are.
Table of contents
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture
- Agrarian Systems and Rural Development | The Economic Journal | Oxford Academic
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The flow of goods was fortuitously made easier by the construction of a road network that crossed the delta.
Lorries and pick-ups quickly replaced boats, reducing traveling time between Damnoen Saduak and the capital to only three hours. The transformation of diked rice paddies into raised beds was facilitated by the use of motorized heavy machinery such as shovel excavators. Peasants increasingly entrusted land preparation to companies equipped with these large machines.
However, many purchased their own motor pump. Connected to tubes, these pumps made it possible to irrigate, by bringing water from the canals to the furrows in the plots, and drain, by bringing water from the plots towards the canals. Very often, peasants would acquire small boats with motor pumps and lateral sprinklers used to irrigate the beds by winding through the ditches interspersed among the plots. Once the water control structure was built on the Mae Khlong, the irrigation waters were not as rich in silt as they had been. As such, the deposits of silt from the furrows onto the beds also decreased.
Farmers massively turned to mineral as well as organic fertilizers 28 to renew fertility of the beds. Crops were first increasingly treated with phytosanitary products fungicides, insecticides, acaricides, etc. Commercial middlemen have often been the main source of credit, providing farmers with the financial means necessary for the new cropping practices: crop dusting with mineral fertilizers and phytosanitary products, constructing raised beds, planting vineyards and other fruit plantations, etc.
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In return for the loan, farmers usually had to promise to sell nearly all of their yields to the lender. These alternative sources of credit became accessible to a growing number of farmers. Nonetheless, farmers turned down by the formal institutions continued to borrow from traders.
Having lost their monopoly as buyer, input supplier and usurer , the traders sought to specialize. There was a segmentation of commercial activities: many traders concentrated their activities on purchasing and commercializing farm produce; others began to sell inputs; the banks provided agricultural credit. This led to a redistribution of the value-added resulting from com-mercialization, to the benefit of the farmers.
Farmers usually bought inputs from the same supplier who would not only make the sale, often on credit, but also provide technical advice regarding the use of the inputs.
This was the case for farmers in the coconut-growing zone along the Mae Khlong, where conversion came with a high cost 30 and the sandy soil was far less propitious to horticultural cultivation. The majority of labor from the family-run coconut plantations would migrate between the factories in Samut Songkram and Ratchaburi that would take care of organizing and paying for the daily transportation of their workers. Only the oldest workers would spend all their time working on the plantations, taking care of the daily chores. The waged laborers who worked for the coconut traders would take care of the rest of the cultivation activities, namely harvesting.
Today, the only produce from coconut plantation is the nuts, harvested green for their water or picked when they are more mature for their milk after defibrating. The other by-products sugar, ropes, cocoa matting have practically disappeared in the region because the money to be made was too little compared to what could be earned in nearby cities. Rice farmers have leased or sold part or all of their lands. Those with resources to do so have converted the few plots that they continue to cultivate into horticultural gardens.
Agrarian Systems and Rural Development | The Economic Journal | Oxford Academic
The flight toward the city has nonetheless remained in check, despite the proximity of the capital and because of the increasing intensification of cropping systems. These systems now require workdays per hectare, enough to ensure the employment of a large number of small landholders and landless peasants. Classification of farms by size shows a Chi-squared distribution. For the most part, these landless peasants live off the revenue that they earn as day laborers on larger farms in the region.
Such tasks that require extra laborers include digging ditches, weeding plots, pruning vines and fruit trees, placing plastic bags on the trees to protect the fruit, and harvesting. Women, who make up the majority of payroll expenditures, carry out most of these tasks, with the exception of ditch digging and portaging. Sometimes farmers will call in middlemen to recruit work teams of people. Team organization is used to temporarily mobilize a large number of workers to carry out a task in a short amount of time. But it also enables day laborers to negotiate their wages in more favorable conditions.
The evolution in wages paid to day workers in Damnoen Saduak is in fact more similar to that of industrial sector than of the agricultural sector. But they are able to cope with this new reality thanks to the significant value-added that these new cropping systems generate. Some farmers already talk about the difficulties that they face when trying to recruit the day laborers they need.
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In order to cope with the situation, some plan on mechanizing certain operations that have, until now, been done by hand, such as sorting fruit. Others have already opted for herbicides in place of manual weeding, and spraying with phytosanitary products in order to eliminate the job of covering the fruit on trees with plastic bags. But the margins for productivity growth are slim in this type of agriculture because the majority of tasks are hard to mechanize. One could also imagine that the farmers with most land and capital be the most likely to improve their cropping systems and the least tempted to leave agriculture.
Yet, the facts show that the rural exodus does not involve, for the most part, the poorest peasant families. Their parents were able to pay for their studies, and thus they can hope to land relatively skilled jobs. On the other hand, children of poor peasants compare the relatively high wages that they receive working in local agriculture with those that they would earn as unskilled industrial laborers, far from their families. Opportunities for day labor are still abundant in Damnoen Saduak, while emigration to the city is costly board, food, etc.
One does not observe a systematic transfer of production means from poorer farms, gradually dismembered when their owners stop working, towards the richer ones. The other third belongs to absentee owners who live in the city and lease their lands. One third of the surface area leased belongs to a few owners who inherited large landholdings that date back to the 19th century of which there are still hectares owned by the Catholic Church.
Another third was acquired in the s by urban capitalists who invested their money in real estate in order to speculate. The remaining third is in the hands of the descendants of wealthy farmers who opted to take on relatively qualified work outside of the district. The speculators, on the other hand, avoid long-term formal contracts that could be difficult to terminate should a lucrative selling opportunity arise.
They lease their lands for only a year at a time via a verbal contract. In a few rare cases, these owners will leave their lands wild or plant eucalyptus. The small landowners, descendants of wealthy farmers, usually know their farmers well and establish five-year formal contracts that are renewable. In , one hectare of land sold for 1. The rent prices have evolved very differently: the average-size farm practically stagnated, in real terms, until , after which point it rose slightly until the crisis in and then it literally crashed, dropping to 6, bahts per hectare per year in However, with the price increase that followed, few peasants had the financial resources necessary to become owners.
The farmers who managed to increase the size of their operations usually did so by leasing. Given the high added value that is possible to create per surface unit, many farmers are able to pay rent without too much problem; and, it is surprising, at first glance, the low rents set by the landowners. But it is worth remembering that the majority of these owners are speculators who want to sell their lands when the time is right and whose income comes from the surplus resulting from this transaction.
Rent amounts represent only a very small part of their overall remuneration and increasing rent would result in only a very small gain compared to the surplus the owners look to gain by selling the land. Moreover, the rice-producing region located nearby is, nowadays, a reservoir of lands likely to be leased at very low prices.
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An increase in rent in the raised bed zones would incite candidates to seek out rice paddies to rent instead. The rice cultivation systems set up in this area of the delta still garner rather low added value and earnings per hectare. Lacking sufficient income to intensify their cropping systems, rice farmers often decide to lease their lands to farmers with more capital.
Even at current levels, which are relatively low, the potential supply of lands to lease is still significant. As such, rent prices have remained relatively controlled over the last ten years. The income made from the sale made it possible for the farmers to invest the necessary capital to improve their production systems. This arbitrage is a way for farmers to reconcile the advantages of being a landowner with those that come with having enough working capital: in reality, these farmers prefer to intensify their cropping systems over land security.
As such, in , the cost of selling farm lands ranged from 0. Accessibility undoubtedly has a lot to do with these price variations. But depending on the type of properties and leasing contracts, the cost of rent is also very different. But we have also seen that it is not necessarily the wealthiest farmers who are the most likely to buy new lands. Indeed, purchasing land for speculative purposes is only in the interest of the urban capitalists who have the means to do so.
It is perfectly possible to cultivate vegetables or set up tree plantations.
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But due to lack of resources, the inhabitants of this area are unable to take full advantage of the situation. They thus lease their lands to peasants from the south, who were the first to benefit from the favorable conditions for setting up high value-added cropping systems, thanks to the construction of the Damnoen Saduak canal and its secondary waterways.
Today, it is this population that has the resources necessary to set up new beds in the northern zone.
Indeed, the peasants who lease plots to set up raised beds and plant orchards would like to be sure that they will reap the rewards of their efforts in the more or less long term. The high-level objectives of a transformation are realized in practice only when they are effectively translated to smaller, on-farm shifts. For example, increased productivity in the dairy sector might be achieved through farmers accessing better animal health technologies and better cattle breeds or joining dairy cooperatives to sell their milk.
Change agents provide the critical interface with farmers.
To catalyze this, a change agent might be the person providing extension knowledge, offering financing for farming inputs such as fertilizer, aggregating crops, or facilitating marketing services. For example, a change agent can help farmers make the transition from growing wheat to more complicated but lucrative opportunities such as raising tomatoes, vegetables, and orchard crops. Effective change agents exist in both the public and private sectors. Other mechanisms for organizing farmer-facing change agents, though, have also played critical historical roles in transformation.
Small-scale stockists, or input dealers, also have an important influence on the changes required among smallholder farmers if agricultural transformation is to succeed for example, promoting the adoption of improved, higher-yielding varieties of seed.