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Gender and Land Rights Database

Thailand

In 2006, the estimated population was 66.51 million, out of which 50.7 percent were women (1). Of the total, 67.4 percent of the population lived in rural areas (1), with women accounting for 50 percent of the total rural population (2). Population density in 2005 was 129 persons per square kilometre (3). The Thai represent 75 percent of the population and the Chinese represent 14 percent; other minorities account for 11 percent (4). There are nine formally recognised ethnic groups living mainly on the highland (5).

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$245.4 billion in 2007 and the per capita GDP was estimated at US$3 846 (6). The contribution of the agricultural sector to the economy has declined from 40 percent in the beginning of 1960s to less than 10 percent of the GDP in 2002 (7). However, agriculture still plays an important role in the economy, employing 52.5 percent of the economically active population (1). In 2006, agriculture accounted for 10 percent of the GDP, industry accounted for 46 percent and services accounted for 44 percent (8). Although the country is one of the world’s leading agricultural exporters, agriculture accounted for 16.3 percent of total exports in 2003-2005, while 80 percent of the annual exports consist of industrial products (9). Main agricultural produce for export include rice, rubber and cassava and sugar (7).

With a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.780 in 2006, the country ranks 86th out of 182 countries (6). In 2004, less than 2 of the population lived under the US$1 per day poverty line (10) while 17 percent was undernourished (10). The percentage of underweight children under the age of five was estimated at 9 percent for the years 2000-2006 (6). Life expectancy at birth in 2007 was estimated at 72.1 years for women and 65.4 years for men (6).The adult literacy rate in 2007 was 98.1 percent for women and 98.3 percent for men (10).

In 2005, 46 percent of women were economically active and 52 percent of them were employed in agriculture; overall, women accounted for 46 percent of the total agricultural labour force (1).

Arable land represents 29 percent of the total land area (1). The average farm area is 0.6 ha per capita (8).

In 1975, with the enactment of the Agricultural Land Reform Act of 1975 and the establishment of the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative (11), the government launched the land reform in response to the problems of the shortage of land due to population pressures, the increasing number of indebted and landless farmers, and the illegal cultivation of state lands (12). Under the act, landless and tenant farmers could be allocated up to eight ha of land that would be paid for on a long-term instalment basis. The land to be allocated would come from purchases from private holders and from forest and crown lands (13). Private land was acquired through purchase and expropriation from large and absentee landowners or from farmers who owned land in excess of established ceilings (14). By early 1979, almost 80 areas had been designated as Land Reform Areas. At that time, focus shifted towards improving the situation of the large numbers of illegal squatters in the forests (13). A cabinet resolution of January 1975 provided that deforested areas within national reserve forests could be allocated to farmers either through land settlement programmes or under provisions of the Agricultural Land Reform Act 1975. Furthermore, occupancy rights of farmers who had cleared and farmed lands in areas classified as national forest reserve were recognised (10). The ALRO has been conducting the Agricultural Land Programme under the provisions of the Agricultural Land Reform Act since 1975 (14).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography