RAP Publication : 1999/38

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Maliwan Mansion, 39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.

This document is the outcome of a study on the vegetable sector in Thailand prepared by Dr Prem Nath. Mr Minas Papademetriou, Dr Kasem Piluek and Dr Edward M Herath

For copies, write to:
Meetings and Publications Officer
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Maliwan Mansion, 39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Website :


AsDBAsian Development Bank
AFTAAsian Free Trade Association
ARCAsian Regional Centre
AVDRCAsian Vegetable Research and Development Centre
CMSCytoplasmic Male Sterility
DECDepartment of Economic Commerce
DNADeoxyribonucleic Acid
DOADepartment of Agriculture
DOAEDepartment of Agricultural Extension Development
FAO RAPFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
GATTGeneral Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GDPGross Domestic Product
GMSGenic Male Sterility
GSPGeneral Specific Preferences
IDAIron Deficiency Anemia
IDDIodine Deficiency Disorders
IPMIntegrated Pest Management
KURDIKasetsart University Research and Development Institute
MOACMinistry of Agriculture and Cooperative
MOCMinistry of Commerce
MOFMarketing Organization for Farmers
MPHMinistry of Public Health
NANot Available
NSONational Statistical Office
NVRINational Vegetable Research Institute
OAEOffice of Agriculture Economics
OPOpen Pollination
TVRCTropical Vegetable Research Centre
USAUnited States of America
VADVitamin A Deficiency
WTOWorld Trade Organization
1 rai=1 600 square metres
1 hectare=6.25 rai
1 U.S. dollar=38 Baht

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Bangkok, November, © FAO 1999

Hyperlinks to non-FAO Internet sites do not imply any official endorsement of or responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data or products presented at these locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. The sole purpose of links to non-FAO sites is to indicate further information available on related topics.




1. Introduction

1.1 Background

1.2 Climate

1.3 Agricultural sector

1.4 Socio-economic aspects of vegetable production

2. Diet, nutrition and vegetables

2.1 Utilization of vegetables

2.2 Nutritional status of the Thai population

2.3 Micronutrient deficiencies

2.4 Food Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs)

2.5 Recommended dietary intake

3. Vegetable production and potential

3.1 Planted areas

3.2 Production and productivity

3.3 Availability

3.4 Regional variability

3.5 The Royal project on crop substitution

3.6 Urban and peri-urban agriculture

3.7 Organic farming and hygienic vegetable production

3.8 Marketing

3.9 Export and import

4. Research and development

4.1 Research

4.1.1 Current research strategies

4.1.2 Research priorities Varietal improvement Crop management research

4.2 Production development possibilities

4.3 Role of the government sector in vegetable research and development

4.4 Role of the private sector in vegetable development

4.5 FAO's assistance

5. Constraints

5.1 Climate

5.2 Technology

5.2.1 Information database

5.2.2 Improved varieties and seed Lack of disease and pest resistant varieties Inadequate production and distribution of quality seed

5.2.3 Appropriate technology package

5.2.4 Post-harvest technology

5.3 Other factors

5.3.1 Market information and systems

5.3.2 Training and technology transfer

5.3.3 Extension personnel

5.3.4 Credit facilities

5.3.5 Natural resources

5.3.6 Socio-economic limitations

6. Vegetables and food security

6.1 Alleviation of shortage

6.2 Nutrition security

6.3 Stability of supply

6.4 Accessibility to food

6.5 Self-sustainable farming

7. Future strategies

7.1 Research priorities

7.2 Genetic resources

7.3 F1 hybrids

7.4 Agro-technologies

7.5 Pesticides

7.6 Organic farming

7.7 Post harvest handling

7.8 Storage facilities

7.9 Quality seeds

7.10 Seed multiplication

7.11 Export

7.12 Marketing

7.13 Human resource development

7.14 Research and extension linkage

8. References



Mother nature has provided an abundance of sunlight, high rainfall, varied elevations, vast arable area and wide bio-diversity in vegetable crops to grow in the tropical world.

One of the dramatic achievements in the Asian region has been the remarkable progress in reducing the extent of famine, hunger and starvation. The recent economic crisis in the region, including Thailand has further emphasized the critical role of agriculture on the road to economic recovery. There is an increased pressure on domestic food production and supply to meet the needs of growing population. Our current and achievable challenge, therefore, is to build upon and accelerate the progress registered in Thailand to ensure safe, secure and nutritious food in the next millennium.

One of the priority aims of most countries in the region is the production of adequate food, in terms of quality and quantity, for the well-being of their rapidly increasing population. Although the bulky staples like cereals, legumes and tubers have received considerable attention in the past, the production of fruits and more particularly vegetables was taken for granted until recently, in spite of their nutritional importance.

In Thailand, the interest in vegetable production has increased rapidly as a result of greater appreciation of the food value of vegetables in human diet. Today, people in every walk of life are consuming more fresh vegetables than ever before, thus making the growing of more vegetables vitally important.

To properly feed the expanding population in a land where vegetable production is relatively inadequate and where the people have become quality conscious, it is incumbent on us, the agricultural scientists to improve the existing inferior varieties and to modernize the agro-techniques to get maximum quality harvest from them. The bottom line indicators for success in agricultural development should, therefore, not merely be increased food production and income, but the quality and diversity of food and its contribution to achieve nutritional security in nations, communities and households.

This publication has attempted to highlight the extent of bio-diversity in vegetable crops which are in commercial production and consumption, as well as those under-utilized species commonly being used. The present status of commercial vegetable production and distribution has been described, as well as areas of improvements in production technology.

Against this background, this publication is considered timely and useful for policy makers, educationists, researchers, extension officers and individuals interested in the vegetable industry. In addition, this publication will be of interest to producers and consumers alike and university students.

Prem Nath
Assistant Director-General
and Regional Representative
for Asia and the Pacific


The valuable assistance in field visits and collection of data received from the officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Royal Thai Government, and of Kasetsart University and Khon Kaen University is gratefully acknowledged. Many thanks are due to Dr Narin Somboonsarn and Ms Orasa Dissataporn of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Mr Manoch Thongjiem of the Horticultural Research Institute, Bangkok, Dr Sutevee Sukprakarn of Kasetsart University, and Dr Kamol Lertrat of Khon Kaen University for useful discussions, and for providing useful information on the subject.

Professor Anothai Choomsai and Mrs Somporn Dabyasara shared their experiences on vegetable improvement and commercial seed production from the private sector point of view in Thailand.

Dr V. Swarup, New Delhi and Dr O.P.Dutta, Bangalore, have discussed and rendered their critical comments on the manuscript.

This write-up could not have been completed in time without the unfailing support received from Ms Anupama Joshi who went through the various verious of the manuscript and provided useful editorial comments.