Thai rice farmers rank environmental concern top reason to farm organically

While many countries are implementing incentive programs to expand organic farming, it is important to understand why farmers are willing to adopt organic practices (or not). A recent study in the Journal of Agricultural Extension explored reasons why rice farmers in Thailand were willing to switch to organic farming, and found that environmental concerns were the top reason. The Thai government has been actively encouraging farmers to transition to organic production since 2018. While the organic industry in Thailand has been growing at a rate of 16% per year, the amount of organic farmland still represents less than 0.5% of all agricultural land. This study aimed to determine which farmers were more willing to adopt organic management and for what reasons. The researchers surveyed 108 rice farmers (58 organic and 50 non-organic). They found that those who were most willing to adopt organic were farmers with more years of schooling, of younger age, with smaller pieces of land, and who had more experience in farming rice. Those who had been growing rice for longer were more aware of the negative environmental impacts of the chemicals used in rice production. When asked why farmers chose organic management, environmental concerns topped the list of reasons, followed by their belief that organic farming is economically viable. If the farmers had access to good quality land and received encouragement from their families and fellow farmers, they were more willing to adopt organic management. This study provides critical information about the opportunities for and barriers to adoption of organic management that can inform future outreach and education efforts to grow the organic industry in Thailand.

Banner Photo Credit: Paolo Nicolello