Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Country reports on situation and needs of Rural Youth

Situation, needs and interests of rural young people: The case of Thailand
The situation, needs and interest of rural young people in Indonesia

Situation, needs and interests of rural young people: The case of Thailand

Mr. Apichai Chingprapa
Mr. Thotsaporn Maneeratana
Mr. Widjatmiko Dirdjosubroto

Farm Youth Sub-Division
Agricultural Administrative Development Division
Agricultural Extension Department

General Situation

According to the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), the projected total population of working-age group (15-59 years) during 1995 to 2000 is estimated at more than 40 million. The youth group (15-35 years) is certainly not less than 20 million. Of which, around 68 percent or more than 13.6 million (from 5.2 million families) are living in rural areas.

The families of rural youth earn their living from both agricultural and non agricultural occupations. In the agricultural sector, 5.2 million farms are operated with the average farm size of 4.1 hectares. The average farm cash income per farm is 35,042.91 Bahts or US$ 1,401.72 per year. While the average non-farm cash income is 22,930.69 Bahts or US$ 917.23 annually.

Due to the rapid change in world economic structure which affects the national situation, the influx of foreign investment and industrialization process, Thailand had the economic growth rate of approximately 7.8 percent per year during the Seventh National Economic and Social Development Plan period. (1992-1996). However, the annual growth rate in the country's agricultural sector during the same period was only 2.5 percent. Income distribution was unbalanced; people in the agricultural sector earned thirteen times less than those in other sectors. Rapid economic development has caused non-agricultural land use to increase tremendously. Farm land has been turned into industrial sites, luxurious resorts and towns resulting in extensive shortage of agricultural area. Traditional production systems are no longer effective and there is high competition in product marketing. These phenomena necessitate the improvement of agricultural processes and the development of a new generation of farmers who possess the knowledge and skills in modem agricultural technology, as well as related economic issues essential for them to become successful in their occupation. Moreover, they should be prepared to become a catalyst in the national agricultural development process.

Situation of Rural Young People

The majority of rural young people graduate with six years of basic education. In 1995, it is found that from 3.5 million young people who reached secondary levels and higher, were mostly from urban areas. Poverty and the need to help their families in the fields and household seems to be the major causes that prevent rural young people from further education.

After completing basic education, rural young people are confronted with three choices of work. Firstly, some of them may join the family's farm business as a cooperator or they may run their own farm activities because their parent provide a piece of land for them. Secondly, beside the farm activities, some of them choose to engage part-time in non-farm occupations, such as being labourers in factories or construction. Thirdly, some of them, especially teenagers in remote areas may migrate to urban areas due to the failure of their family's farming business.

Challenges for the Development of Rural Youth

Nowadays rural young people in Thailand face many social and economic challenges as follows:

1. Uncertainties of farm business

Given the natures of agricultural production, the farm business is in fact a risky and uncertain venture. As known, farm output is very much dependent on the climate, pests and seasons. The irrigated farmland is only 20 percent of the total farmland all over the country. It is made even more so by the fact that the prices of some agricultural commodities are determined by the foreign markets because many agricultural products from Thailand are exported to other countries. Some face very high competition with other domestic producers as well as from the ones abroad due to the implementation of the GATT free trade agreement. Furthermore, most small farmers find it is difficult to secure reasonable and reliable access to credit, agricultural inputs, and marketing information and facilities. The most crucial factor that limits the security of farm business is the low bargaining power of the producers.

Rural young people, therefore, consider agriculture as a low paying and hardship occupation, and most of them no longer want to cultivate their land. They have opted to move to Bangkok and other big cities hoping to find a job in the industrial or service sectors with higher and regular incomes.

2. Decreasing of potential farmlands

Many farmers sold their agricultural land due to its attractive prices to real estate speculators. The farm lands, especially those located near mountains are very much wanted for development into tourist resorts, holiday houses for rich Bangkokians or golf courses. Farmers, especially the young generations, found that rather than cultivating their land which give uncertain earnings from agriculture, selling land gives them a new life full of luxury items, like electrical appliances, motorcycles, or cars. Although they get richer in the short term, they often eventually end up as landless farm labourers.

3. Less opportunity to attain sufficient level of formal education

Results from the Family and Youth Survey conducted by Chai Podhisita and Umaporn Pattaravanich (Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, 1995) suggested that youth in rural area are more likely to have less opportunity for higher education than those in the cities. This is due to the wide socioeconomic gap and different welfare opportunities between urban and rural families. The survey also revealed that youth from families whose main sources of incomes is from agriculture, fishing, and labor are largely worse off in their education, compared to those coming from trade or government service families.

Unfortunately, for these young people in rural area, while attending the primary schools, they spend very little time learning about the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out efficiently their tasks in rural work.

4. Income disparity

Thailand experienced rapid double-digit economic growth during the late 1980's and become one of the newly industrialized countries in the region. Although the welfare of Thai people has increased substantially, this does not guarantee the absence of poverty and income inequalities, especially in rural areas. It is assumed that per capita income of people working in Bangkok is about 13 to 14 times that of rural people in the Northeastern provinces of Thailand.

The annual household income per capita between Bangkokians and Northeasterners reflects the inequalities in income distribution. Data from the last survey conducted by the National Office of Statistics shows that in 1992 Bangkok households had annual income per capita of Baht 55,965 while in the Northeastern Region the annual household income per capita was recorded at Baht 12,756 (Bangkok Post Economic Review Year End 1995). Moreover, the Review also mentioned that the average income of rural households in 1986 was lower than that of 1981 in absolute terms because of the world recession and low commodity prices. However, in the same period, urban people managed to make relative gains mainly from the success of foreign trade.

5. Degradation of natural resource base

Degradation of the natural resource base is caused primarily by deforestation, land salinization and pollution. In the case of deforestation, some landless farmers who cannot find jobs in the cities, are forced to encroach on the dwindling forest areas and cultivate the marginal forest lands. Also trees in the reserved forest are cut down illegally even though logging is banned in Thailand. Deforestation causes soil erosion, flash flooding, drought and a decrease in soil fertility.

Land salinization is occurring in some provinces because of the operation of inland salt mining. Salt producers turned their rice fields into salt mining hoping to get bigger profits rather than growing crops. As for pollution, thousand of rai of land are destroyed by shrimp farming. Thailand currently is the biggest shrimp exporter in the world, and this contributes significantly to the balance of payments of the country. After being used for salt mining and shrimp farming, the land cannot be used for crop cultivation. The decrease in land area and fertility for agriculture purpose has reduced the production and productivity of paddy and other highland as well as low land crops.

6. Inequality of resource and facilities allocation

As a matter of fact, urban people, which are only 32 percent of the total population, are better equipped with resources and facilities provided by the government than for the rural people. Urban people's livelihoods are relatively convenient and there is a reliable infrastructure where health and information facilities are available. Resources and facilities in rural villages can not be compared not only with those in urban cities, but also among themselves. There is a gap among these allocations. The facilities in remote villages are far behind those of other rural villages as they are so difficult to reach, their leaders are passive, and also the ignorance of concerned development agencies.

Opportunities for Rural Youth Development

1. Modernization and efficiency of farm technologies

The agricultural and post harvest technologies development in Thailand has taken place to sustain improvements in the levels of outputs and productivity of agricultural commodities. Technology research and development has been conducted by various government agencies. Even the more sophisticated and advanced technologies are transferred to the country, since they are urgently needed by the agro-industry and agribusiness sectors.

For rural development, the appropriate farm technologies suitable for rural condition has been adopted to increase the efficiency of farm operations as well as its comparative advantage by lowering per unit costs or time of production and makes work more comfortable for farmers. Farm machinery also increases the quality, quantity and value added of farm products, so that they help raise farm income and upgrade rural standards of living and ultimately helps stabilize the economy and society as a whole. With modernization of agriculture, it is likely more rural youth are willing to stay in the villages and engage in agriculture occupations.

2. Integration of farm and non-farm occupations

From the survey conducted by the Office of Agricultural Economics, it was recorded that the average proportion of farm and non farm income of Thai farmers in 1995 is 1.5:1. This fact shows the importance of non-farm activities in farmer's finances. Although 70 percent of rural people still engage in agricultural occupations, we seldom find full-time farmers who are engaged 100 percent in farm business because non-farm activities can ensure more income security for farmers. Food preservation and handicraft production, based on agricultural products, are being practiced nationwide by farm housewives and female youth due to their high demand in various levels of markets.

Integration of non-farm activities and farm business can be a good alternative for rural young people faced with the possibility of migration to Bangkok and other urban areas.

3. Employment opportunities in rural areas

The decentralization policy of the government, since the beginning of the 7 National Economic and Social Development Plan (1992), has created more jobs for rural people. People organizations at the sub-district, district, and provincial levels have the authority to decide on development projects in their own areas. Jobs which are attached to a project give rural people another choice to earn their living especially during the off-planting season.

The significant increase of agro-industrial factories and home-industry units in rural areas since the last decade has also contributed to opportunities for rural youth to stay and work at their hometowns.

4. Participation of youth leaders in farmer institutions

Although 4,064 farmer associations and 2,608 agricultural cooperatives has been established since the last two decades, the roles of these organizations in supporting their members have been quite limited. Most of these institutions only deal with loans and selling farm inputs to their members. Hardly any of these types of organizations perform to help members in marketing and human resource development.

According to the policy of the Department of Agricultural Extension stated in the 8th National Economic and Social Development Plan (1997-2002), more than 4,000 youth leaders all over the country are going to be given opportunities to participate in the organizational management of adult organizations. This policy will be carried out in cooperation with the existing farmer organizations on a voluntary basis. Each of the organization can request support from the Department to finance and get technical assistance in order to develop and enhance the capabilities of their young members. Training and other means of human resource development can be supported in various forms in accordance with the organization's condition.

Professional organization management and more linkages among farmer organizations nationwide are the expected outcomes of this policy in the long run in order to gain more bargaining power of the farmer's institutions.

Needs and Interests of Rural Youth

A total of 173 rural youth leaders from all provinces in the country participated in the National Rural Youth Seminar which was organized by the Department of Agricultural Extension from 25 to 28 September 1995 in Pattaya, Chonburi Province. The outcomes of this seminar include statements of vision, expectations, and needs of youth with regard to the rural youth development. The outcomes could also be interpreted as commitment. The expected roles of relevant governmental and private agencies in the development process are as follows:

1. Expectation on Future Thai Farmers' Characteristics

· Have equal dignity with people in other sectors.

· Have sufficient knowledge and skills to handle farm businesses effectively.

· Have good quality of life, in terms of living standards and finance security.

· Be members of strong and well-managed farmer organizations which can serve necessary information, farm inputs, and marketing services.

· Have opportunities and access to participate in setting up the Governmental Rural Development Policy.

· Increase productivity by using appropriate technologies.

· Increase knowledge and skills of non-farm occupations for ensuring family income.

· Access to information for farm business planning.

· Own farm land and utilize it effectively.

2. Conditions of an Ideal Farm Family.

· There is love and understanding among family members.
· Has steady and sufficient income.
· Has security in housing, farmland, and assets.
· Has enough funds to invest in the family business.

3. Functions of Ideal Farmers' Organization

· Serves information of knowledge and technologies to members.

· Coordinates with governmental and non-governmental agencies.

· Improves quality life of members and environment of communities in collaboration with concerned agencies.

· Assists members in making production and marketing plans.

· Protect members' rights and benefits.

· Develops capability of members continuously.

· Gives opportunities for members to participate in planning of organization development.

4. Expected Future Roles of Rural Youth

· Farmers' Heirs: They will possess genuine intention to pursue agricultural occupation and have pride and devotion for their farming profession and their land. They will also be instrumental in the improvement of attitudes toward agricultural occupations and will take the initiative in the economic and social development of farm families.

· Professional Trades in Business: They will possess professional knowledge and experiences in farming and have extensive concepts of investment, production process, financial sources, benefits, marketing so that they can manage their own agro-business activities. Their bargaining power in agro-business process will increase through the establishment of production cooperatives among themselves.

· Managers: They will have knowledge and skills in resource management (e.g. land, capital, water sources) in order to obtain maximum benefits from these resources and acquire regular income all year round. These new experiences will enable them to contribute actively to the formation of agro-administration systems through the National Agriculture Council.

· Technicians or Agricultural Specialist: They will possess knowledge in production technology by integrating modem techniques and local expertise. They will also be able to analyze problems and formulate appropriate production strategies taking into account maximum investment benefits. The development of modem agricultural technology and agro-industry will be more effective because farm youth will be well prepared to cope with the new trends and to select the most suitable methods for their agricultural activities.

· Teachers or Agricultural Extension Agents: They will be able to introduce changes and act as examples to other farmers in the aspect of modem agricultural occupation, and be able to transfer such knowledge and skills to the next generation of farm youth. They will also be able to recommend appropriate improvement in agricultural education systems and curriculum in relation with the actual national agricultural situation and needs.

· Community Leaders: They will be accepted by and considered as dependable community members. They will have the ability to solve problems concerning agro-business process, agricultural legal matters, and organization and mobilization for agricultural professionals. Thus, their role in agricultural community development and national development will be crystallized.

5. Expected Roles of Concerned Agencies

· Promote and support rural youth to group together in order to learn and practice occupational development activities as well as to provide the supports of inputs and funds for them to start their own businesses.

· Provide opportunities for further studying of rural youth both formal and informal education.

· Promote the participation of rural youth in managing farmers institutions to become the successor of old committee members in the future.

· Promote and support rural youth to participate in community problem solving and environmental development.

· Promote the linkages of rural youth in the country for the sharing of knowledge and experiences and also for the cooperation among them in the development of production, marketing management, and environmental conditions.

· Conduct promotion campaigns on the importance of rural youth development for the awareness of people and organization concerned.

Government and Non-Government Agencies Involved in Rural Youth Programmes

Several agencies, both government and non-government, implement rural youth development programmes in Thailand. Their activities are coordinated by the National Youth Bureau, an institution under the Office of the Prime Minister. The youth programmes carried out by a government agency are usually related with the agencies main functions. For example, the Department of Agricultural Extension has the programmes for the rural young people in the field of agriculture and agribusiness.

The other government agencies are the Narcotic Control Board and the Sport Authority of Thailand under the Office of the Prime Minister; the Department of Cooperatives Promotion and Department of Livestock under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives; the Department of Community Development; the Department of Public Welfare; and the Ministry of Education.

Some of the NGO's which carry out rural youth programmes include: the Thai Yuwa Kasetkorn Promotion Foundation, the Girl Guide Association of Thailand and the New Life Foundation. Among these organizations, the Thai Yuwa Kasetkorn Foundation works very closely with the Department of Agricultural Extension. This Foundation in particular provides financial support to individuals or group of rural youth to implement income-generating projects in agriculture and agribusiness.

In 1994, the Cabinet laid down the National Youth Policy as directive principles for government and non-government organizations to follow in their coordinated implementation of the youth development plans in order to achieve their common objectives. One of the principles is to urge young people to acquire knowledge first and always, to expedite them to receive at least elementary education, to appreciate and create artistic works, to promote vocational training so that they can take up occupation suitable to local conditions and a demand of the labor market, to learn to make a sustainable use and conservation of natural resources and environment and to learn to organize an economic system of their own.


The changing structure of the Thai economy as a result of rapid economic growth he affected way of life of rural people, especially the young people who are naturally very dynamic. This situation can have positive or negative impacts to the youth. The positive impact will bring opportunities for them to have a better and brighter future, not only for the rural areas but also for the entire nation as well. The negative impact should be avoided as much as possible, and the youth should be informed and educated about this fact. The population education for rural youth is one of the important activities for preparing them to deal with the development processes of the nation.

The situation, needs and interest of rural young people in Indonesia


The total population of Indonesia is estimated at about 200 million, making it the fourth most populous country in the world. The rate of increase is about 16 percent per annum and about 80 percent of the population live in rural areas.

In 1990, the population census revealed that the number of youth in Indonesia is about 75 million or 42 percent of the total population. Of these about, 68 percent stay in the rural area.

Most rural youth have limited access to education and many drop out of school at an early age. Consequently, this situation creates sociological and economic problems at the national level. Therefore, the development of rural youth should receive the highest level of attention, since young people living in the countryside have a significant impact on national development.

Problems/Issues of the Rural Youth

Two major problems of rural youth which affect national development are (1) the high rates of migration to urban areas and (2) early marriage. They are described below:

1. Urbanization

Many rural youth drop out of school. The drop out rate is presented in Table 1 below.

Table 1. The total number of youth who dropped out of school in rural areas in 1990.

Age Group

Number of Youth Who Dropped Out of School (000 persons)













Source: Central Bureau of Statistics, 1990.

The total number of school drop outs in rural areas is around 15,538,000 young people; many of these leave school at an early age.

The education of rural youth is presented in Table 2. According to 1995 statistics, there were 26,402,055 rural youth in primary schools of varying ages. Of these 21,695,605 dropped out.

Table 2. Level of Education Achieved by Rural Youth.

Educational Attainment

Age Groups








Never/Not Yet Attended School








Not completed/ Not Yet Completed Primary School








Primary School








Junior High School - General
















Senior High School - General
















Diploma I/II
































Source: Control bureau of statistics, 1995

Some young people stay in the rural areas helping their parent in agricultural activities. Others who lack skills, migrate to urban areas working as labourers with very low income. hi general, rural youth have a very low opinion of agricultural work and farm family life styles. Even the educated rural youth are not willing to be a professional farmer. Instead they prefer to work in the city earning a very low wage. This situation was supported by the opinion of parents that working as a farmer does not end with a happy life. Furthermore, the minimum rate of wages in cities are increasing as government policy is implemented to stimulate development of the industrial sector.

Due to lack of education, many of the youth work as temporary labourers and this situation creates many problems, including crime and other negative activities. In the long run, the large migration of rural youth to urban areas will influence the national economy since there are fewer and fewer people working in the agricultural sector in rural areas leading to decreasing agriculture production.

2. Too Young at First Marriage.

In rural area the age of first marriage is too young, especially among women as shown in the Table 3.

Table 3. Age at first marriage of among 10-54 year old women in rural areas.

Age of First Marriage

No. of Women















Sub Total










Sub Total




Source: Central Bureau of Statistics, 1995

There are 19,822,102 rural women who get married at the age of less than 20 years old, while 7.007.172 of them are more than 20 years old. The earliest age of marriage is 13 years. Young girls are not really mentally for marriage and also they don't have enough knowledge on family life. This situation raises many problems concerning family health and marriage itself. As shown in Table 4 below, many married couple break their marriage especially for those who get married at the age of less than 20 years old.

Table 4. Marital status of rural youth.

Age Group























Sub Total










































Sub Total














Source: Central Bureau of Statistics, 1995

This table indicates that there are a higher numbers of married females, 1.099.499, than married males, 132,421 for those who get married at the age of less than 20 years old. The divorced and widowed females are also higher than that of males.

Government's Policy and Programme

The Government of Indonesia pays attention to the preparation of the younger generation for developing the nation. In the Guidelines of State Policy, it tells that development of the young generation is the nation's noble responsibility. Guidance and development of young people should be carried out at the earliest possible age at home, school and in the community.

The direction of the Guidelines of State Policy is carried out by the Government and people through various programs on youth guidance and development with the target as follows:

1. To improve knowledge and skills.

2. To increase the role of youth in the development of social, policy, economic, culture and defense.

3. To increase innovation and leadership.

4. To create a conducive atmosphere for youth to be more healthy, dynamic and democratic.

The Ministry of Agriculture which stresses rural development has carried out various programmes to increase youth's role in agriculture development.

Based on involvement in farm management, rural youth are classified by the Ministry of Agriculture into three groups:

1. Young farmers who have already made a choice of farming as a living.

2. Children of farmers and other rural youth who have interest in agriculture. They have not yet made a choice of farming. These young people assist their family and still depend on their family.

3. Boys Scouts of Agriculture is part of the Indonesian Boy Scout movement that emphasizes leadership development, skills training, nationalism and promotion of agricultural interest and support to agricultural development.

The Ministry of Agriculture operates development schools/institutions for young people who are interested in agriculture through formal education, or through non-formal education (Agricultural Extension Activities). Agricultural education and extension programmes produce well-educated farmers and fisherman who are self reliant and for the future are able to make progress through rural development activities.

Today, there are 253 Agriculture Development Schools, either state run or private, all over the provinces, and in the period between of the Fifth Five-Year Development Plan (1989/1990 until 1993/1994) they have graduated 55,771 young men as we see in Table 5.

Table 5. The number of alumnus having graduated from the Agriculture Development Schools in Indonesia for the Fifth Five-Year Development Plan.










































Source: Agency of Agriculture Training and Education.

To support agricultural extension activities, where young people are also being educated, the Ministry of Agriculture has built 1,718 Rural Extension Centers with 39,400 extension workers and 364,266 key farmers spread over the country.

The other facilities to support the development activities of the Ministry of Agriculture are the establishment of a Youth Hostel Cibuburs (LBTC), Agricultural In-Service Training Centers (BLPP) in 26 provinces and, Fishery Catching Skills Training Centers (BKP) in regions which have the potential in fisheries.

To improve the teaching and learning process for youth, the Ministry of Agriculture also developed several relevant extension methods, for example, in-country and overseas apprenticeships, farm courses, dialogues, demonstration plots, field trips, and developing youth farmer groups as learning groups, production units, and intergroup collaboration, linkages with village economic/cooperative organizations, bank and the public, as well as, private firms; and also developing economical units for enhancing income and employment. The other method they are fostering is leadership and pioneering through the active participation in Prominent Contact Farmer Group (KTNA) activities at the sub district level, district, province and national levels.

Apprenticeship youth program of Indonesian farmers and fishermen of Indonesia, have been sending young people abroad since 1984. Up until 1995, the programmes have sent 253 farmers and fishermen from all of Indonesia to other countries. The expectation is that they come back to their respective areas to become innovative farmers and fishermen.

From 1996 over 32,000 youth farmer groups have been recorded. These groups of young farmers have produced successful results.

Since 1984 until 1993, there are 572 Satuan Karya Taruna Bumi youth groups (Boys/Girls Scouts of Agriculture) all over Indonesia with 22,669 members. Their members are students from 14 to 25 years of age. They gain knowledge and skills on food crops, estate crops, livestock, fisheries and horticulture.

There are also other government institutions concerned with developing young people in rural areas. They are the Ministry of Manpower who operates several centers for non-formal education, such as the Labor Training Center (BLK), and the Labor Training Courses (KLK). In the rural areas, these centers work to improve skills of youth and provides training for non-governmental trainees to enhance their technical skill, in areas such as mechanics, electricity, construction, management and other vocational training fields. During the Fifth Five-Year Development Plan (PELITA V) there is a 10,279 person youth volunteer labor force which works in rural areas.

The Ministry of Transmigration is also participating to create some programs for rural youth. They are directly linked to the rural youth in the transmigration areas. The Ministry conducts programs on non-formal education in various subjects to help develop innovativeness and creativity among young people who form a cadre of rural development promoters to work in the resettlement units (UPT) of the transmigration areas.

Besides the government, there are also private voluntary and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) which have been actively involved in the country since the first PELITA. During the past few years, these organizations have increased in number and have expanded their field of operations. Several NGO foundations are currently participating in rural youth development, especially in the field of agriculture. They are working in several relevant activities to improve managerial skill of small scale entrepreneurs for development and self reliance. They include Dharmais Foundation, Dian Desa, and the ASTRA Dharma Bhakti Foundation (DBF).

In general all the effort of related ministries and NGO's are to develop skills and welfare of rural youth.

The Minister of Population also has major programmes to improve the life and welfare of rural people. Most of the emphasis is on birth control and health.

The Minister of Youth and Sport is formulating national youth policy and will coordinate the development of youth in the country.


Lack of education and knowledge on population and family life issues cause serious social, economic and health problems in rural communities. It is indeed important to have a non-formal population education programme to reach out-of-school rural youth. Population education is vital for increasing the welfare of the community and is important as it complements other components of rural development for modernizing agriculture.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page