Rice farming systems in the irrigated areas of central Thailand, unlike other parts of the country, have undergone limited changes over the past two decades. These systems are based on two rice crops per year. Generally, they are characterized by the intensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Most of these rice farming systems provide full-time employment to farmers. However, the sustainability of these rice farming systems has been undermined by two factors: the decision to end policies to support rice prices on the domestic market and the aging farming population. The study analyzes the experience of farmers located in Prachinburi Province, who began changing their farming systems in order to move away from conventional rice production. Thirty-eight of these farmers were interviewed, about their objectives, the process of change, and the impacts of these changes. One group of farmers started growing non-rice crops and another group began to produce organic rice collectively. Profitability has increased, but many farmers see also these changes as an opportunity to increase home consumption. In addition, the changes have made the farming systems more flexible. These developments help rice farmers in central Thailand build their capacities for change to be able to adapt to ongoing evolutions of the agricultural sector. However, upscaling these changes in farming systems and in farmers’ capacities will require wide-ranging support.
Keywords: Conventional Rice, Diversification, Organic Rice, Thailand
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