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Using labour to characterise forms of agriculture: A Thai family rubber farming case study

Chambon B., Bosc P.M., Gaillard C., Tongkaemkaew U.. 2021. Journal of Contemporary Asia : 26 p..

DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2021.1901958

To contribute to the debate on labour and the ways of farming, this study tested the relevance of a labour-based typology to discriminate among forms of production operating in the Thai rubber sector. The data used came from surveys with 469 farmers. The case of Thai rubber-based family farms is specific but also brings generic insights to the debate. Classifying the farms based on their mode of organisation helps in understanding farmers' overall strategies regarding farming and non-farm activities. These differences were important and were linked to the capacity of family labour to develop non-farm activities. However, surprisingly, no discrimination among the types of farms appeared based on the agricultural production system. This finding appeared counter-intuitive given the importance of hired labour in rubber family farming. The non-significant differences for the practices and the land and labour productivities engaged in rubber cropping could be linked to the use of share-croppers (and not wage employees) as external labour. Further research needs to identify factors that can unlock productivity in the rubber plantations, whatever the category of holding. The importance of pluri-activity has strong implications that will require expanding empirical works focusing on labour issues.

Mots-clés : agriculture familiale; exploitation agricole familiale; enquête sur exploitations agricoles; main d'oeuvre familiale; typologie; plante à caoutchouc; métayage; thaïlande; hévéaculture

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