Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 15

Individual home exam

QUTVVIET-2 Development studies 1 Hoi An, Vietnam 2016

Hgskolen i Oslo og Akershus
Candidate number 722
Word Count:
Submission date: 1.04.2016

Topic 2: Using Vietnam or other Southeast Asian countries as example(s), discuss

the main trends within rural transformation and agricultural development.

1. Abbreviations
2. Introduction
3. Agriculture in Thailand
4. Rural transformation
4.1 Introduction
4.2 From traditional societies to modernity
4.3 Thai rural women Migration workers and their relatives in the rural village
4.4 Rural-urban inequlityinequality
5. ConclusionFinal thoughts
6. LitteratureLiterature

The Webster dictionary defines transformation as an act, process, or instance of

transforming or being transformed to change (something) completely, and usually in a
good way. Development however, is according to the same source; the act or process of
growing or causing something to grow or become larger or more advanced.

Thailand, a land that many will think of as the land of big smiles and endless beaches, is
also a diverse country with over 70 million inhabitants, and among them, most live miles
away from the beaches and the urban tourist trail. Unlike many of its neighbouring
countries, the country was never colonized, and therefore did not have to cope with the
effect this would have caused, both on its people and the economic development.
Thailand has had a blossoming economy, and pursued a more open and aggressively
approach to development, - with the result of now being categorized as a newly
industrialized country.

2. Introduction
Over the last few decades, Thailand has experienced a rapid growth in the countrys
economy, and the country has become the 2nd largest economy in Southeast Asia, after
Indonesia, - this resulting in Thailand being recognized as a middle power in the region.
In the years between 1965-1997 the country experienced an economic miracle with the

result of lifting more people out of poverty than ever before in human history. (World
Bank 1998) Those many years of economic growth was followed by a meltdown that
started in Bangkok 2. July 1997, when the Thai Bath collapsed by 20 per cent overnight.
The cause of this recession was that the country no longer could support the fixed
exchange rate between Bath-U.S dollars, and had acquired foreign debt burden that made
the country bankrupt. This economic crisis spread to other countries in the region, and
was given the nickname The Asian Flu. (Rigg, J. 2012:47, Euromoney 1997)

The countryThailands economic growth differs from its neighboring countries, such as
landlocked Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Along with Indonesia and Malaysia, Thailand
followed in a second tier of an economic boom, with the so-called four tigers in front
(Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan) (Dicken 2011: 30, 31) the term Tiger cub
economies are used to refer to these nations.
While theThe countrys economic center is in the capital Bangkok, and to some extent the
southern parts of the country, where tourism is a key factor in the economy. Northern
Thailand, with Chiang Mai as the largest city, and administrative center in the north, is
inhabited by about 6over 1,6 million people. Isaan, a common term for the 20 regions in
the Northeast of the country, makes up for Thailands poorest and most rural parts. These
parts of the country have also experienced the effects of the nations development. The
northern regions in the country have, and still are undergoing large changes in its rural
areas. As the country has developed, agriculture has become a less significant part of the
countrys economy. But still, around 50 per cent of the population is employed in the
agricultural sector (Leturque & Wiggins, 2010:4) With new capital investments, more
competition, and less need for manpower in the agricultural sector, the rural parts of the
country, have also experienced a diversification of its economy. This have, alongside
with peripheral factors such as the introduction of IT and globalization, caused an
increase in migration from the less developed areas, to larger urban agglomerations,
tourism hotspots, the capital; Bangkok and abroad.

3. Agriculture in Thailand
The terms growth, industrialization and development are often used
interchangeably, to the extent that developed countries are often called industrialized
economies. (Kambhampati 2004:30)
Over the last four decades, the Asian countryside has been affected by the outside world
in a more profound way than what has been the case before. New technology, new
inventions and improvement of existing ones, have had a great impact on all aspects of
the livelihood of an Asian villager. Different countries have to various degrees been a
part of the globalization. Agriculture has, and still is in most places the main income
source for large parts of the rural population. But how the agricultural practices are being
conducted, from putting a seed in the soil, to the harvest, and everything in between, has
in many places been experiencing great changes. There have been a large number of
studies, with the purpose of learning how and why changes in an agricultural village take
One of the many difficultyies in such a study is that there is no typical Asian village
that can operate as a unit and a social observatory with the goal of learning more about
changes in the typical life of a villager. (Rigg J. et.al. 2012:4) D depending on a broad
range of factors, a typical rice village can be many things. But in order to discover the
main trends and and tendencies, the village study has been used to research agrarian
change. (Rigg J. et.al. 2012:5)
the village became a preferred research entry point, because it was seen to be a
social, economic, bureaucratic and eco-spatial container that conveniently encapsuled
the transformations that scholars sought to illuminate and explain. It was seen to be an
organic autonomous and communitarian entity where common interests and obligations
held sway.

(Elson, 1997:213-216 cited in Rigg, J. et.al. 2012:5)

With this in mind, there are however clear patterns that show how development in
agriculture has taken place in the countries of Southeast Asia. But the changes are
complex, and findings will vary in a number of ways, depending on the country and
region in question, and what point of entry the researcher chooses.

As mentioned earlier, 50 per cent of Thailands population is employed in the agricultural

sector. Earlier it was the worlds-leading exporter of rice, but is now overtaken by
Vietnam and India. (Leturque & Wiggins, 2010:8) About 40 per cent of the countrys
total land area is agricultural land, and 50 per cent of this area is used for rice cropping.
Thailand was early in the modernization and industrialization of the agrarian sector.
Between 1960 and 1980, the annual growth in agriculture was about 4 per cent. (Leturque
& Wiggings, 2010:9) Nowdays, the country is one of the largest, and in some cases have
the lowest cost of production, on some kinds of export products. The export of Thai
foodstuffs is seen all over the world, - not only in Asia. The country has a large ,
industrialized industry, producing canned, dried and other kinds of products with long
shelf life along with fresh greens. Investments in some export industries, and
specialization in selected crops, such as rRice, natural rubber, sugar cane and cassava,
and following the main trends in agricultural modernization, has made the agro-industry
of Thailand a very modern one. The Thai shrimp industry is also big. I, - in 1991 the
country was the worlds largest shrimp producer. (Bello et al. 1998, cited in Willis

3.1 Agriculture and climate change

Thailands location, situated in the area


4. Rural transformation
4.1 Introduction
Rural transformation is a process witch can be described as change over time, where
people from rural areas are adapting from one set of seeing themselves as a part of
society, to another. They are taking advantage of new opportunities and have to cope with
a new world. This is aA world they did not have the same access to, or sometimes knew
existed sometimes as little as one generation ago. Globalization, which they may or may
not feel they are allowed or have the knowledge and right mind-set to take a part in,.
have been a key player in this change. NWith new inputs can come from such different
changes asfrom both communication technology or, access to new types of foods,.
The world bank (1975) has defined rural development as a strategy designed to
improve the economic and social life of a group of people the rural poor. It involves
extending the benefits of development to the poorest among those seeking a livelihood in
the rural areas.

4.2 From traditional societies to modernity

For many people, ideas of development are linked to concepts of modernity.
Modernity in its broadest sense means the conditions of being modern, new or up-todate, so the idea of modernity situates people in time. (Ogborn, 2005: 339 cited in
Willis, 2011:2)
In order to understand how we can define a rural transformation, it is important to
comprehend how the people of rural areas see the world. What they think about

themselves, as a contributor to the local society, the country and in the global perspective.
Today, many of those we can define as the rural poor, - those who not holds the same
premises and opportunities as their same kind, i.e. in more urban areas of the country
will feel left behind. They feel that , and that they are not given a chance to take part of in
the development, due to lack of skills, such as not being able to read proficiently or not
having the monetary means necessary to make a better life for themselves. Rural
livelihoods of today are perhaps more aware of their own poverty, trough mediainformation. They probably know more about and the gap between them and the
others, - those who have the liberty and money to live a different and maybe better life.
The rural poor of today, are often described as chronically poor. But at the same time
an iIncreasing numbers of them see exit strategies, such as domestic migration and
finding work, and is some cases a spouse abroad, as the quickest way to move out of their
poverty. (Zoomers, 2008:147 Therefore, considerable numbers of rural poor are no longer
rooted in their place of origin. But for many, their relatives still play an important role in
their life and culture, and they maintain relations with their home communities. But they
are also attached to other places, and function in larger social networks. (Zoomers,
2008:149) An increasing number of people are living transnational lives, cooping with
such different places to live their lives as The thai countryside, a Norwegian countryside
village and a booming mega-city in The Middle East. IBut in many places, family life has
over the years become an increasingly individualized thing, and many experience an
erosion of community life. (Desai V. & Potter R 2008)
The social security based on The big family is deteriorating in Thailand, in China and
many other countries, without a social security based on a welfare state being in place.
This makes hundreds of millions people in Asia more vulnerable.
This view is to some extent shared with UNDP, who states The decline in agriculture
has resulted in a social crisis as livelihood pressure have fueled distress migration of
millions of villagers to urban centers, dividing households, scattering families, and
hollowing out settlements. (UNDP 2007

4.3 Thai rural women Migration workers and their relatives in the rural village
In order to truly catch the zeitgeist of the livelihood in rural Thailand, one can not avoid
the fact that rural women, - in particular, migrate to urban locations with the hope of
getting employment in sectors that require basic or no education at all. Womens
participation in the Thai labour force is lower than that for men, with the ratio of 0.8,
which is about 0,1 point higher than the Southeast Asian average. (Asian Development
Outlook 2012) But still, there have been a noteworthy increase in the female internalmigrant population. In previous times, it was almost with no exception the men who left
the village in their teens or early twenties. B, but as for now, young women flock to find
work, as the manufacturing and service sectors in Thailand continues to grow rapidly.
(Huijsmans 2013)
This group of migrant workers usually take forms of workjobs such as factory workers,
engage in the tourism sector and other forms of unskilled labour. This feminisation of the
migration work pool is a typical phenromenonone in both Thailand, and in other
countries of Southeast Asia. To understand the complexity of this mass migration of
younger women, and why this is so frequent, one must link together a number of factors,
which show why this is happening. When we use Thailand as an example, the cultural
norms play a big part. In parts of Southeast Asia, and typically in Thailand, Vietnam and
Laos, the tradition is that the last-born daughter would stay at the family farm, and look
after her parents. She would will inherit the family farm, and function as an economic
and social protection for her older family. This has been the norm for generations. She
will live with her husband, if any and care for her parents when they retire and were not
longer able to make a living from agriculture. This kind of intergenerational contract is
also found in Patrilocal southeast Asia, i.e. the Kinh ethnical group of Vietnam
(Huijsmans 2013) But here, the tradition is that one of the sons will take this role of
retirement security. Like in many other parts of most of the world, this was the norm until
some generations ago.

UBut unlike many countries in the Global North, few Southeast Asian countries have a
formal old-age security issued by the state, - at least not one that supplies the elderly with
enough money to live a decent life after working age. Some degree of retirement
foundings are given from the Thai government. But for those who have worked on the
family farm, or other kinds of independent trades, this money are not enough or not
existent. In rural parts, the retirement coverage is only 14.8 per cent. (Huijsmans 2013)
Over 80 per cent of the Thai population in the age 60 and up, have some of their income
from children, and 37 per cent in the age 60-64 states that their main income is the one
that they receive from their offspring. These numbers grows coherent with the parents
age. (J. Knodel 2007) Life in the Thai countryside has changed to a society mainly
dependent from agriculture, to a shift into a mixture of different sets of incomes. These
remittances from offspring working in cities and urban agglomerations have become
crucial for day-to-day survival, and to secure a dignified retirement. This does not only
apply for female domestic migrants. Also those who establish relationships with foreign
men, send home remittances to their family. Based on which country the Thai female
relocates to, and what kind of work she will take abroad, this can in some cases be a
transition from poor living conditions, to life of riches for the womans family. For some,
this might be a driving force to walk the same path themself, but for others, it might be
seen as a driving force for inequality and growing differences in the same village, - both
monetarily and socio-economic.

These women, often from the poorest part of the country; Isaan the Northeast are
bringing back noteworthy remittances to their place of origin. A survey conducted in the
early 2000s by the Thai governments National Economic and Social Board reviled that
the Isaan ex-patriot women injected the area with around 35 million USD yearly. This
amounts to 6 per cent of the regions agricultural economic output. (BBC 2004) The
classic clich of an Asian mail order woman finding a man from Europe or the US have
also gone trough a transformation. In todays Asia, a women that marry abroad, is most
likely to stay in Asia. In Taiwan, one-third of all marriages are between a Taiwanese man

and a foreign woman. China and Vietnam is one of the largest suppliers of these
women. (Lam, 2003 cited in Douglas, 2006:469)

The intergenerational contract between older parents and their adult children do however
go both ways. In order to have the opportunity to care for their family taking employment
outside their home village, it is increasingly common that a grandparent taking the main
responsibility of taking care of their grandchildren while the mother is working in other
parts of the country or abroad. This growing trend have roots in the Thai culture, where
the case was more of a daytime arrangement. B, but in a society with a large increase in
rural-urban migration, the main responsibility of raising the migrant mothers children, are
often in the hands of her parents. This is more common for single, or divorced women,
who does not have a household income where there is a father who is contributing to the
household economy. In Rural areas of Thailand, a survey conducted in 1994 and 2007,
show that the numbers of children in working age living in different province than that of
their parents, has raised from 29 per cent to 37.6 per cent. (Knodel & Chayovan, sited in
Huijsmans 2013)

Since the Vietnam War, when American soldiers went over the Thai boarder for their
Rest and Retreat, Thailand have a somewhat of a motley history, and is well known to
be a destination for sex-tourism. The reality however, is that the domestic market
accounts for most of the revenue. (WHO, 2001) According to the World Health
Organization (WHO) it is estimated that 150.000-200.000 women was engaged in
prostitution or other forms for of sex-labour in 2001. (WHO, 2001) But as these figures
are difficult to estimate, due to the illegal and legal migration of women from
neighbouring countries, -especially Vietnam and Myanmar, and the lack of transparency
in the trade, these figures is likely to be significantly higher. (WHO, 2001) The countrys
sex trade has revenues that accounts for 10 per cent of Thailands total GDP. It is

estimated that women in the industry send yearly remittances of about 300 million USD,
to families living in more rural areas. (Havocscope, 2015)

4.4 Rural urban inequality

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) ranks Thailand as a country that holds high
inequality. F figures are higher than the neighbouring countries. (ADB 2012)
In the broad picture, the countrys workforce can be divided into two sectors, the rural
and the urban. Kuznets (1955) argued that when countries experience urbanization, and
the transformation from mainly an agricultural society to an industrialized society, the
inequality between the two would appear. (Kuznets 1955, cited in ADB 2012:69) This
will perhaps come as no surprise, as the prospects of gaining higher salaries would be
increased in the latter. But this will also affect the inequalities within the two sectors.
Premium wages, and people working for minimum wage or less, is one of the big issues
with industrialized countries today, and especially in Tthe Global South. This is also
happening in the rural sector. World Development Report 2008, recommend that smalltime farmers, that is not longer able to compete in a higher profit higher investment
type of agriculture, should quit. (WDR 2008 cited in Li, 2009; 630) This trend is typical
in an sector with more competition, and one of the side-effects of the low-input and
higher output production we see in modern agriculture. Those who still wishes, or not see
any other option, than to stay in the smallholder agricultural sector, will be outcompeted
in the end. They might have enough to survive from day to day. But in the end, they will
be vulnerable for what can be described as potential poverty, if unexpected changes in
their lifes, or periods of bad crops occur. But there is no place for every farmer in the
industrialized sector. This sector is more affected by ups and downs in the global market,
- something Thailand experienced during the 1997 financial crisis. In order to be
attractive, or improve your chances to find a decent job, and wages in the enormous
worker-pool that is available in Asia, people go to long extents, and many fails in their
pursuit. While going abroad to find work can be a quick-fix in order to get out of poverty,

many suffer from unhealthy working conditions, trafficking, and what can best be
described as modern day slavery. (Maulia 2008, cited in Li, 2009:631, Willis et. al 2009
cited in Willis 2011:214) In year 2008, 1.5 million Burmese, and half a million Laotians
and Cambodians may have experienced this, as . - Most of them illegal immigrants where
working in the agricultural sector in Thailand. (Rigg 2007, cited in Li 2009:631)

5. ConclusionFinal thoughts

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim, argued that a difference between the traditional
and modern societies, would will be an increase in individualism. At the same time he
argued that when the societies Since societies became more complex, it will be possible
for more people was possible to secure their the day-to-day survival individually.
Durkheim foresaw that this people can But still be a part of a social whole. However, if
a change from the old society to the new would happen to quick, athe state of Anomie
would occur a ; - A feeling of rootlessness and a life without guidelines for moral
behaviour. (Martiniussen 1997:26 cited in Willis, 2011: 131) Is this the life many people
of Southeast Asia are living today?

6. Literature

Dicken, Peter (2011) Global shift: Mapping the changing contours of the world
economy. London: Sage
Rigg, Jonathan, Salamanca A. and Michael J.G Parnwell (2012) Joining the dots of
agrarian change in Asia: a 25 year view from Thailand, - World Development 40:14691481

World Health Organization (2001) Sex work in Asia

Willis, Katie (2011) Theories and Practices of Development New York: Routledge
Kambhampati (2004) Structural change, industrialization and economic growth
Knodel J. (2011) Impact of population change on the well-beeing of elderly in
Thailand iIn G. Jones & W Im-Em The Impact of Demograpic Change in Thailand
Bangkok: United Nations Population Fund Table 3.8
Knodel J. & Chayovan C. (2009) iIntergenerational relationships and family care and
support for Thai elderly.
ADB (2012) Asian development outlook 2012: Confronting rising inequality in Asia,
Manila: Asian Development Bank.

Rigg, Jonathan (2012) State and market perfections and imperfections in

Unplanned development: Tracking change in Southeast Asia London: Zed Books pp.
46, 47, 51 chapter 3.
Zoomers, Annelies (2008) Rural livelihoods The companion to development studies
2. Edition London: Hoddlers Education

UNDP (2007) Thailand human development report 2007: Sufficiency, economy and
human development Bangkok: UNDP
Leturque H. & Wiggins S. (2010) Thailand's progress in agriculture: Transition and
sustained productivity growth,. London: Overseas Development Institute

Li, Tania Murray (2009) Exit from agriculture: a step forward or a step backward for
the rural poor? , The Journal of Peasant Studies, 36:3, 629-636.

Internet resources
Euromoney (1997) When the world started to melt
Retrieved 21.4.2016
Havocscope, (2015) Prostitution Statistics
www.havocscope.com Rretrieved 27.4.2016
BBC News:Thailands Swiss village
Retrieved on 21.4.2016