living in the ‘Land of Smiles’

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thai Youth Seek a Fortune Away From the Farm

Via: New York Times

During 18 years living across the road from rice paddies, Malinee Khammon has never planted a single seedling. The daughter of farmers who is in her last year of high school, she has become adept at deflecting increasingly desperate pleas from her parents for help on the farm.

It’s hot and exhausting — I don’t like it,” Ms. Malinee said recently as she downloaded photos from her camera onto a computer at the local community center. “I’d rather stay indoors.”


But in Thailand today, rice farming is suddenly the preserve of the old as young people stay longer in school and as the vast metropolis of Bangkok lures the country’s best and brightest to careers in air-conditioned workplaces.

All they can do with their hands is use a cellphone,” said Sudarat Khammon, who at 33 is the youngest farmer in Baan Khlong Khoo, a village of stilt houses outside the central Thai city of Phitsanulok.

Only 12 percent of Thai farmers today are younger than 25, down from 35 percent in 1985, according to government statistics, and their average age jumped to 42 in 2010 from 31 in 1985.

The move away from the rice paddies is not altogether surprising: Thailand and other rice-growing countries in Asia are following patterns of industrialization seen elsewhere.

But the transition is particularly charged for Thailand, where the growing of rice — notably the prized jasmine variety — is entwined with the country’s identity, and its livelihood. The country has been the world’s leading rice exporter since 1983, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and rice exports amounted to more than $6 billion last year.

Rice is highly politicized in Thailand, and this year, partly to appease disgruntled farmers, the government put in place a price guarantee system that has hurt competitiveness, leading to stockpiles of unsold rice.

In the long term, as the older generation of farmers dies off, experts worry that Thailand may have trouble finding people to work its 13 million hectares, or about 32 million acres, of rice paddies.



Boonmee Khammon, 41, the father of Ms. Malinee, speaks bitterly about his two daughters’ refusal to help him in the rice fields.

“They live in their own world,” Mr. Boonmee said. “They’re not interested in working on the farm — I’ve tried to force them. It’s difficult.”

Ms. Malinee says her dream is to become a teacher. Her friends at school, some of them also the children of farmers, want to be doctors, pharmacists and engineers. She seems slightly embarrassed about her farming roots. “She’s afraid of getting dark,” said Namaoi Taengbang, a friend.


Read the entire article, HERE:



Many internet cafes are packed with young people from early morning until late at night.

“Her friends at school, some of them also the children of farmers, want to be doctors, pharmacists and engineers.”

But the majority I see in the cafes are either on Facebook, or are playing video games.


And YES, I believe this might contribute to Thailand ranking 41st out of 48 out of the standard for university education.

And NO, I don’t see anything which reverse the trend.


June 5, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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