It is argued that while land tenure data can be instrumental in addressing land-related conflicts, much of the practical value is lost because of inconsistency of information and because information is not readily accessible, or cannot be combined to allow for greater depth of analysis. In practice, this means that policy-makers cannot make immediate use of the information that is available because additional time and expense are required either to collect additional information or to verify the validity and accuracy of existing information.
This article is a report of a short-term study commissioned by the FAO Land Tenure Service to review and analyse Thailand's land tenure data. The objectives can be divided into five major areas, namely: (i) to identify how and why the collection of selected land tenure data in Thailand can be valuable to policy-makers; (ii) to review and assess the current status of collection of land tenure data in selected provinces of Thailand, including particular constraints as well as the current and potential institutional homes for the data; (iii) to identify the main issues that should be addressed to improve the collection of land tenure data; (iv) to evaluate the available land tenure data from the point-of-view of the Assets Capitalization Bureau (ACB) and its task, as well as the valuation of agricultural properties; and (v) to suggest issues that could be explored further in a given context.
To address the issues listed above, the following sections present findings in five corresponding areas, namely, the changing context of land resources in the Thai economy; the profile of public land administration institutions; public land resource management issues; the current status and limitations of land and tenure System information; and the relevance of reliable land tenure data to support land-related development policies.
The following table depicts a number of farms and average farm size in the whole kingdom, it was estimated that there were totally 5.70 million farms with the average farm size of 23.0 rai in 2001. The highest number is in the Northeast, more than 2.5 million farms, followed by the North, the Central and the South which account 1.30 million farms, 0.89 million National Report on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development in Thailand, ALRO, MOAC, February 2006 farms and 0.88 million farms respectively. In terms of average farm sizes, the largest farm size is in the Central region about 29 rai, followed by the Northeast and the South with the average of farm sizes of about 22 rai and 22 rai respectively. The smallest average farm size fall into the North at 21.5 rai.
Table1:1 Number of Farms and Average Farm Size by Region in 1992 to 2001
II. During the Course of the Corporate Crisis
In the article, "Interview: Thailand Eyes Agriculture as Key for Sustainable Development" (2000), a senior Thai agriculture ministry official told Xinhua in an interview is cited to note that "the Southeast Asian financial crisis made Thailand realize that a strong agricultural sector could help guarantee social stability and sustain development." ("Interview: Thailand...," 2000) Ampon Kittiampon, assistant permanent secretary of agriculture and cooperatives ministry, notes that Thailand's costly economic crisis taught their country to value Thailand's success as an agricultural exporter. Along with leading the world in exporting rice, this country also qualifies as the world's largest exporter of canned pineapple and processed tuna. In addition, Thailand numbers in the top 10 in frozen chicken exporters. ("Interview: Thailand...," 2000) Agriculture serves as a segment of society which produces food products, which in turn produces money, and also helps preserve natural resources and social and cultural traditions. At one point, during the booming years, however Thailand's focus shifted from agriculture to industry and services. "We jumped into the industrial sector and neglected the real need of the majority of our people -- farmers," Kittiampon states. ("Interview: Thailand...," 2000)
Cooperative's Changing Challenges
In "Agricultural Cooperatives in Thailand: Innovations and Opportunities in the 21st Century," Ms. Suwanna Thuvachote (2006) purports in that Thailand's agricultural sector constitutes a vital element in Thailand's economy in its past and is projected to continue to be in the foreseeable future as Thailand is deemed an agricultural country,
Agricultural cooperatives, which promote the concept of self-reliance and cooperation, Thuvachote (2006) notes, contribute to raising Thailand's farmer members' socio-economic status in their agricultural sector.
Currently, changes in various external and internal environment s challenge Thailand's agricultural cooperative movement. To sustain its operation and business growth, and/or to survive, Thailand's agricultural cooperative movement has had to adjust its structure and business approach to developing situations. According to Thuvachote (2006), the Tha-Yang Agricultural Cooperatives present a positive model of successful adaptation to this particular type changing environments. (Ibid)
One Specific Success Story
Established in 1974, Tha-yang Agricultural Cooperative, Ltd. (TAC), located in Petchaburi province, approximately 200 kilometers from Bangkok, had 2,145 members in 2006.
TAC comprises one of the largest multipurpose agricultural cooperative s in Thailand, with business focus business in credit, deposit, banana export and central market service. TAC's success of implementing novel practices in exporting chemical-free Hom Tong Banana to Toto Consumer Cooperative (TCC) in Japan earned it the 2003 "Outstanding Product to Consumer" award.
Factors to Success
Primary factors contributing to TAC's success story of banana export to Japan include:
Cooperation among cooperatives:
This particular business success occurred primarily as cooperatives cooperated with each other to produce chemical-free bananas, in response to consumers' demand.
Trust: The two cooperatives projected "trust" of each other strengthened during production control, as they were transparent when exchanging information, along with consulting on their production and marketing plan.
Consumers' confidence increased as consumers could trace the product to its source. As consumers communicate concerns, consequently producers can address and strengthen weaknesses, and in turn have stronger customer base.
Technical Support: The government also contributes to this business' success; as the Department of Agriculture proffered technical support in areas of "production, cleaning, standardization, packaging and transportation," during the pilot phase of the 2001 banana export to Japan. (Thuvachote, 2006)
Prior to TAC's success, agricultural cooperatives in Thailand reportedly began in 1914, during the reign of King Rama V. Rice. At this time, the Thai economy opened to international trade, as production was becoming commercialized. Farmers, albeit did not profit from this scenario, as floods and droughts led to the farmers not being able to repay loans. In turn, many lost their farmlands and became hired-laborers, unable to pay their debts.
Through a special assistance program, Sir Bernard Hunter, leader of the Madras Bank of India, introduced the cooperative concept to Thailand, which proposed to help farmers to pay off debts, while simultaneously improving their livelihood. During 1916, in response to Hunter's efforts, the Thai government formed the "Wat Chan Cooperative" in Phitsanulok Province, the first "trial" cooperative society in the country.
Small paddy farmers knew this as a "village credit cooperative." With unlimited liability, this cooperative followed the Raiffesen credit cooperative type, only providing farm credit to help the farmers who were severely in debt Sixteen of the provinces' most indebted farmers became founding members of the Wat Chan Cooperative. Even though it had a start -up capital of only 3,000 baht, the cooperative functioned so effectively that the 16 members were able to repay 50% of their debts within the first 13 months of operation. Small village credit cooperatives began opening all over Thailand and continued to prevail until 1983.
During this span of time, other kinds of cooperatives were established, including the "Bank for Cooperative" in 1947; two provincial cooperative banks in Chiangmai and Uttaradit in 1952 and 1953; the "Bank for Agricultural and Agricultural Cooperative (BAAC) in 1966; the Agricultural Cooperative Federation of Thailand in 1969.
Currently, Thailand's official categories of cooperatives fall under seven types:
Land Settlement Cooperative
Thrift and Credit Cooperative
Credit Union Cooperative (Thuvachote, 2006)
The "Amended Associations Act," enacted in 1916, Thailand's first cooperative law, registered farmer cooperatives to help paddy growers. In 1928, another "Act" replaced the Amended Associations Act," permitting other kinds of cooperatives to be organized. This act, in turn, was amended a number of times. In 1999, the "Cooperative Act, B.E.2542," with 138 sections; divided into 10 parts, created through consults from government and non-government institutions to govern…