Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 Executive summary
 Part I: Background to the...
 Part II: Findings
 Part III: Implications
 Appendix: Descriptions and...

Group Title: Case studies of the impact of large-scale development projects on women ; no. 3
Title: The Northeast Rainfed Agricultural Development Project in Thailand
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080519/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Northeast Rainfed Agricultural Development Project in Thailand a baseline survey of women's roles and household resource allocation for a farming systems approach
Series Title: Case studies of the impact of large-scale development projects on women
Physical Description: x, 134 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Palmer, Ingrid
Sukaesinee Subhadhira
Wilaiwat Kritsanaphūti
Population Council
United States -- Agency for International Development
Publisher: Population Council
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1983
Subject: Women in rural development -- Thailand   ( lcsh )
Agricultural development projects -- Thailand   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Thailand   ( lcsh )
Farm management -- Thailand   ( lcsh )
Household production -- Thailand   ( ltcsh )
Rural conditions -- Thailand   ( ltcsh )
Rural women -- Thailand   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Thailand
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Statement of Responsibility: by Ingrid Palmer, Sukaesinee Subhadhira, Wilaiwat Grisanaputi.
General Note: "Funded by the Agency for International Development under grant no. AID/OTR-G-1841."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080519
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 34497385

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page
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        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
    List of Tables
        Page vi
        Page vii
    Executive summary
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    Part I: Background to the study
        Page 11
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    Part II: Findings
        Page 37
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    Part III: Implications
        Page 80
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    Appendix: Descriptions and tables
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Full Text

Case Studies of the Impact of Large-Scale Development Projects on Women

The Northeast Rainfed Agricultural Development Project in Thailand: A

Baseline Survey of Women's Roles and Household Resource Allocation for a

Farming Systems Approach


Wilaiwat Grisanaputi, Sukaesinee Subhadhira and Ingrid Palmer

Study No. 3 September 1983

A Series for Planners

This study was fully funded by the Agency for International Development under
Grant No. AID/OTR-G-1841.

Professor Wilaiwat Grisanaputi and Dr. Sukaesinee Subadhira are staff

members of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Khon Kaen Univer-

sity, Thailand. Ingrid Palmer is a consultant on rural development.


This study is an example of a preliminary investigation of women's roles

and household resource allocation to aid in the design and implementation of a

farming systems approach to farming improvements in a rainfed, high-risk area.

It involved a two-month field survey covering household composition, labor

deployment, credit sources, extension services and their limitations, house-

hold financial management, and health and welfare issues. Respondents'

opinions on recent agricultural changes and on services, and their perceptions

of risk and deniable improvements were also sought. Some considerations are

drawn on how a farming systems approach might proceed.

Key words: pooling of resources (between households), division of labor,

migration, credit, farmers' groups, extension services, risk, farming systems

approach, water, health, agriculture, Thailand.


This is the third in the series of studies of the impact of large-scale

development projects on women. The Population Council intends to issue at

least eight studies in this series between now and 1985. As the first in the

series, the NEMOW Case, was published over three years ago, it seems appropri-

ate to comment on what we have learned in those three years and on our planned

future studies.

The NEMOW Case by Ingrid Palmer was issued in 1979 as Paper No. 7 in the

Working Paper Series of the International Programs Division. It was not an

actual field study though it drew on a variety of field experiences. The pur-

pose of the NEMOW Case was to (1) demonstrate how a concern with women's roles

is intrinsic to a concern with development, (2) to show that it is not un-

usually difficult to find out how projects would affect women, and (3) to sug-

gest that such an analysis, based on existing levels of information and sup-

plemented by short field visits of two to three weeks by an experienced

observer, might provide significant practical guidance at the design, imple-

mentation or evaluation phases of development projects. The fourth unwritten

objective was to interest a donor or donors in sponsoring original field work

on the effects of mainstream development efforts in geographically diverse

areas and in diverse sectors on women's roles, with an emphasis on produc-

tivity effects.

The NEMOW Case proved very popular. Three thousand copies were printed

and distributed by the Council, much of it in response to individual and in-

stitutional requests. The United States Agency for International Develop-

ment's Offices of Evaluation and Women in Development also reprinted and

distributed numerous copies. The letters we received and discussions we had

with users of this material indicated a void in the literature; planners,

development practitioners, and those who train planners were looking for clear

and persuasive materials that can be adapted for didactic purposes.

We have learned in the interval since the NEMOW study was published that

whereas it is not difficult to find out how projects have affected or are

likely to affect women, this type of assessment may be more or less demanding

depending on the nature and geographic spread of the proposed/completed inter-

vention. When the Council undertook the field work required for three studies

of development schemes of substantial breadth (in terms of geographic varia-

tion) and flexibility (in terms of the range of interventions studied or to be

designed) more extensive and in depth assessments than a three week rapid

rural appraisal were in-order to provide useful guidelines to planners. This

study, for instance, required two months of field investigation in 12 quite

different villages spread over a large part of the Northeast Region of


We intend to undertake additional research efforts. However, given the

limitations of funds and staff time and our desire to bring as many diverse

and high quality materials to readers as possible, we have looked beyond

initiating field investigation of current projects to exceptional Ph.D. dis-

sertations which have examined the impact of specific development schemes or

clear changes over time on different classes of household and different mem-

bers of the household. At least three studies in this series for planners

will be based on dissertation field work. But development practitioners also

need to know how much women are affected by particular issues, such as land

reform or male migration, in different countries and regions of the world. We

intend to publish monographs on those separate issues utilizing the most

significant secondary source materials.

We welcome from our audience of readers comments on the substance,

format, and distribution of these materials.

Judith Bruce
Associate, The Population Council

Ingrid Palmer
Editor, A Series for Planners




The Northeast Rainfed Agricultural Development

The Land and the People

The Analytic Framework

Research Methodology




Household Formation and Inter-Household Cooperation

Labor Deployment: Demands and Constraints

Credit Sources and Costs

Extension Services and Membership of Organizations

Household Financial Management

Welfare and Family Planning

Migration and Inheritance


Project Objectives

Suggestions for More Specific Objectives

Selecting Target Households and Villages, and
Initial Interventions







TABLE 1 Variations of Environmental Characteristics, Household Land Use,
and Sources of Income of the Eight Project Tambon

TABLE 2 Household Residents: Number of Households Reporting, By Village

TABLE 3 Percent of Households Reporting Use of Parents' Land, and Sharing
of Farm Resources, Granaries and Cooking (%)

TABLE 4 Pooling Farm Resources, and Sharing Granary and Cooking, By Sex
of Household Head

TABLE 5 Relationship of Household with which Respondent's Household
Shares a Granary, By Sex of Household Head

TABLE 6 Use of Adult (15 years and over) Household Labor and Rice
Cultivation by Mornings and Afternoon

TABLE 7 Use of Adult Household Labor on Major Cash Crops by Mornings and

TABLE 8 Use of Hired Labor by Crop and Area Planted

TABLE 9 Home Industry

TABLE 10 Off-farm Wage Employment of Normally Resident Male and Female
Household Members of 15 Years and Over

TABLE 11 Number of Male and Female Headed Households Reporting Use of
Institutional Credit in Agricultural Year 1981-82

TABLE 12 Credit Obtained from Relatives, Friends, Money Lenders, Traders,
by Interest Rate and Crop Use

TABLE 13 Number of Respondents Who Have Attended an Agricultural
Demonstration and Number of Households Visited by an Agricultural
Extension Officer

TABLE 14 Members of the Household Spoken to by Visiting Agricultural
Extension Officer

TABLE 15 Opinions of Women Agricultural Extension Officers

TABLE 16 Membership of (a) Farmers' Groups, Farmers' Cooperatives, BAAC
Groups, and (b) Village Committees

TABLE 17 Person In Household Who Sell Produce, by Type of Produce

TABLE 18 Person in the Household Who Control Cash Income

TABLE 19 Breastfeeding and Cooking/Eating Problems in Busiest 2 Months

TABLE 20 Seasonality of Miscarriages, Infants' Sickness and Deaths of
Under Fives

TABLE 21 Percentage of Households Using Birth Control, and Numbers
Reporting Methods Used

TABLE 22 Contraceptive Preference of Respondents

TABLE 23 Source of Information on Birth Control and Sterilization

TABLE 24 Ideal Number of Children, Improvements of Birth Control Services,
Effect of Youth Migration on Ideal Family Size



The overall purpose of the Northeast Rainfed Agricultural Development

Project (hereafter NERAD) is to improve farming productivity and the utiliza-

tion of households' resources and, thereby, the livelihoods of low income

families over an area of 8 tambon covering a population of 65,000 people.

Under this, the specific objectives are:

1. To assist farmers to adopt practices suitable to local conditions, and

to overcome risk by developing a package of technologies and resources

specifically addressed to rainfed agriculture.

2. To provide adequate extension and other services to farmers.

3. To establish a research and demonstration program responsive to

farmers' needs, thereby increasing farmers' awareness of economic


4. To improve the year-round supply of supplemental water for vegetable-

growing, livestock-raising, and domestic usage.

5. To provide a suitable framework for matching farmers' needs to Govern-

ment resources and capabilities.

The project intends to incorporate a farming systems approach which

relies heavily on extension services. Early interventions in selected vil-

lages will be refined for replication over a wider area. Not all the proposed

interventions will be introduced in all the villages, but there will be core

activities common to them all. Women are expected to benefit greatly through

training schemes and involvement in the planning and implementation of agri-

cultural and non-agricultural sub-projects. It is recognized that women have

a prominent position in the Northeast due to female descent of land and matri-

local marriage.


A farming systems approach at the sub-household level needs to incorpo-

rate changes in the size and the sex and age composition of households at dif-

ferent stages of their life cycles. In the Northeast of Thailand migration of

children is another factor, and its determinants by locality need to be

investigated. If labor is a constraint to higher productivity farming it is

important to know whose constraint this is, and what time of the year it

occurs. Likewise, information on periods of relative underutilization of

individuals' labor is useful baseline data for evaluating the feasibility of

agricultural changes. With seasonal wage earnings comprising a proportion of

total income in this dry region, the perceived desirable balance between farm-

ing and non-farming income can determine attitudes to farm productivity

improvements which require more cash inputs and perhaps surrendering some wage

employment. Farmers' perceptions of risk, and the way they deploy household

labor to minimize risks, are also a proper subject for a farming systems

approach, as are the ability of existing and potential credit and extension

services to counter risk.

In the Northeast women are the principal owners of land and the litera-

ture supports the belief that they also control cash income. What effect this

has on farm management is also relevant to a study of the household economy.

The opinions of both men and women on family planning services, as well

as an analysis of the relationships between women's work and maternal and

infant health, can provide indications of improvements in family planning ser-

vices and general welfare.




and inter-





A total of 413 households in 12 villages were included in

the study. Village differences in the residence of children

over 18 years could not be clearly associated with average farm

size. In the poorest of the land scarce villages, with little

cash cropping, grown children of both sexes were absent most

frequently. Multigeneration households tended to be fewer in

the most southern, smaller-scale farming villages, and house-

holds in these villages also had higher average dependency

ratios indicating greater labor constraints. In most villages

between 10% and 20% of households pool land, labor, and other

production inputs. The smallest percentages were seen in south-

ern villages. Women-headed households are consistently more in-

volved in resource pooling with another household. This is due

to women outliving their husbands and younger widowed or

deserted women cooperating with a sibling household. The young

widow or deserted woman who is not pooling resources is in

danger of being excluded by extension services and other farming


None of the cultivation tasks is exclusive to one sex, al-

though the division of labor varies slightly by village. The

data indicate that the flexibility of the division of labor in

farming is a rational response to demand and supply of household

labor, with women taking a more prominent role when men are

absent in wage employment. Very little (under 15 years) child

labor is used in any village. The migration of grown children

has increased the intensity of both sexes' farm labor, but men's

labor more so. Transplanting and harvesting rice requires both

sexes to work intensively.

The agricultural time-table influences the nature of the

sexual division of wage employment. Householders in the driest

villages tend to rely more on seasonal migratory employment.

Home industry (silk production and weaving, cotton weaving, and

basket-making) is widely undertaken by women in the dry season

in all but one of the 12 villages. But this is mostly for own-


The great majority of respondents stated that they were

prepared to accept a new cropping method even if it meant some-

one in the household having to give up wage employment, which is

widely regarded as more risky than crop production. Uncertainty

about prices and markets for the larger output were the most

important considerations in adopting farming innovations. Addi-

tional labor input was the least important, although more women

than men showed hesitation over rejecting this consideration. A

female labor constraint was also indicated by respondents claim-

ing that families with young children would prefer not to con-

centrate on rice production (and therefore the goal of rice

self-sufficiency) because women in such families do not have the

time for the work involved. Apart from the issue of additional


to risk



and costs



labor requirements, there was no difference between men's and

women's replies on attitudes to farming innovations.

With institutional interest rates much less than free

market rates the very different usage, by village and household,

of institutional credit is an important issue for the project.

The relative absence of cheap Bank or Cooperative credit in some

villages is often accompanied by the highest rates from private

sources, including relatives and friends. Because members of

Farmers' Groups sometimes sell (at somewhat higher prices) part

of the allocation of cheap credit fertilizer from Cooperatives

to other villagers, the Groups' membership cannot be used as an

indicator of the number of households enjoying this credit.

Nevertheless, that membership of the Groups is disproportionate-

ly drawn from households with above average farm size is evi-

dence of unequal access to cheap credit. An equally important

issue is that some villages are poorly organized and this is

often reflected in poorly developed Farmers' Groups.

There was no observable difference between men- and women-

headed households' sources of credit. Multigeneration house-

holds and pooling of resources between households with women

heads help to explain this.

In some villages men's attendance at agricultural demon-

strations is good, but elsewhere few men attend them. The

picture is far worse for women. The most common reason for not

attending, for both sexes, is lack of time, followed by lack of

interest. Home visits by extension officers are infrequent and




are disproportionately made to households with large farms or

with someone who is a member of the Village Committee. Very few

women are spoken to during these visits. Nearly all of the 413

respondents believe that women would be more interested in agri-

cultural extension if there were women agricultural extension

officers and stated that they would like to see more women in

the service.

The greater preponderance of men in negotiating credit

appears to be due to their greater mobility. It is frequently

the case that whereas women negotiate free market credit from

sources within the village, men negotiate it from outside the

village. Although men do most of the selling of crops, special-

ization in particular crops, by sex of seller, is not apparent

apart from women who tend to be more involved in selling cash

crops than rice (which is partly due to the absence of some men

in the dry season). A significant number of respondents claim

that they sell crops jointly with their spouses.

Women are still the more important custodians of all cash

income. But in villages where many households sell large sur-

pluses of rice, men are emerging as controllers of income (in-

cluding wages). The continued strong role of women in financial

management precludes an image of 'women's unpaid labor on

husbands' cash crops'.

Earmarking of income varies by village. In the more self-

provisioning villages there is least earmarking. The more in-

tensive secondary cash cropping villages show the highest per-


and family


centage of households who set aside income for different pur-

poses, principally for credit repayment and food purchases.

Moreover, where there is an emphasis on this practice women are

more strongly confirmed as custodians of cash income. The

common denominator would appear to be women's dominant role in

small-scale cash cropping, using large cash inputs, in the dry


Women and children are more important than men in collect-

ing water for all domestic purposes. In the dry season this can

be a serious problem and place a seasonal stress on women.

Rice planting and harvesting, and some dry season cash

cropping, are additional causes of seasonal stress. One effect

is reduced or prematurely terminated breastfeeding, more so in

villages characterized by either extreme dryness or heavy con-

centration on rice cultivation. Monthly data on miscarriages

corroborated the influence of these seasonal stresses. In vil-

lages where two or more seasonal peaks in miscarriages were

apparent there are higher year-round incidences of miscarriages,

suggesting that women in these villages have difficulty regain-

ing their strength. Infant sickness tends to peak towards the

end of the dry season, when the onset of rains causes stomach

troubles, and in the colder months at the end of the year. But

deaths of the under-fives show two peaks: during rice planting

and rice harvesting. The obvious implications of these data for

health are improved supplies of domestic water in the dry season




in the more critical villages, and child care facilities during

rice planting and harvesting in all villages.

The people are clear that inability to divide their land

between their children and seeing them depart for the cities are

reasons enough for practicing birth control. The pill is the

most commonly used method. When asked for their first prefer-

ences of birth control means, 132 respondents chose the pill,

106 sterilization, 60 the injection, and 50 the IUD. When asked

how they thought birth control services could be improved the

women's replies most frequently concerned preventing side

effects from the pill, overcoming the inconvenience of travel-

ling to medical stations by having medical extension officers

visit the villages, and encountering more sympathetic attitudes

from medical personnel.

In villages where land is scarcest and average farm size

smallest, the ratio of daughters-to-sons who migrate is great-

est. Although parents expressed a preference for daughters to

return to the village, there is evidence of change in the prac-

tice of female descent of land. The degree of daughter prefer-

ence in land inheritance showed some covariation with the inten-

sity of cash cropping, by village averages. Two conflicting

reasons for the change in inheritance practice were heard. The

'daughter scarcity' reason is seen as the consequence of smaller

family size and the migration of grown daughters. The 'land

scarcity' reason states that sons are no longer waiving their

inheritance rights because their wives are inheriting insuffi-

cient land. Whichever is the true explanation, a move to bi-

lateral inheritance must have a negative effect in the long run

on the general standing of women, and on young widows and

deserted mothers in particular.


Ensuring that seasonal labor stress, particular for women, is not

worsened must be seen as a pre-condition of farming improvements. Supplemen-

tal water resource development for domestic purposes is one obvious interven-

tion, considerably more important in some villages than others. The idea of

child care facilities in certain months of the year is popular everywhere and

could be a general innovation. Designing crop improvements which require any

additional labor to be applied between rice planting and harvesting or in the

dry season would promote more effective utilization of household labor re-

sources. If crops using small-scale water resources were developed this could

help to underwrite riskier investment in rainfed rice. It remains an open

question how underutilized women's labor is in the dry season. Project inter-

ventions may need to be directed towards raising productivity or encouraging

women to move from present occupations into others.

Risk in improving mainline farming productivity in areas subject to

periodic annual drought presents the challenge of raising actual production in

good years so that farmers' higher incomes carry them through poor rainfall

years. But if risks are to be reduced over an average of several years, the

supply of cheap institutional credit must be improved since the difference be-

tween institutional and free market interest rates is large enough to affect

the profitability of cropping changes. This will require mobilizing more

small-farm households in Farmers' Groups and informing farmers of Bank for

Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives facilities.

The extension services, which is already poorly servicing the farmers,

needs to be greatly strengthened if it is to be part of a farming systems

approach to the Project and to help democratize access to all agricultural

services, including the extension service itself. There should also be affir-

mative action to reach women with advice and information, especially if new

dry season agriculture, in which women are currently more involved in than

men, is to be developed. Women extension officers ought to be recruited.




Project objectives

The Northeast is the poorest of Thailand's four regions. It contains

one-third of the country's population but enjoys only 14% of gross national

product. In the area included in the NERAD project there is little potential

for large-scale irrigation, and resettlement of population increases in new

villages has led to cultivation of more marginal, lower-yielding land. Yields

of some crops are reputed to be declining due to soil exhaustion. Rainfall is

variable on a year-to-year basis and in some parts the land is said to bear

its current potential output in only one year in three. Together with the

mosaic of soil types, lower and upper terraces, and water and forest re-

sources, this confounds any attempt to introduce a standard package of


The NERAD project seeks to devise combinations of interventions which are

appropriate for different locations by an initial selection of villages or

groups of households which will then be the basis of corrections and modifica-

tions for replication over a wider area.

In order to marshall the limited resources of the project as effectively

as possible only two tambon (sub-districts) from each of four provinces out

of a total of 16 provinces in the Region have been included in the NERAD

area. Each tambon has between 6 and 21 villages. The eight tambon cover a

population of 65,000 persons, or approximately 10,000 households. They have

been chosen for their range of agro-ecological and agro-economic conditions.

Not all of the proposed interventions will be introduced in all the tambon and

villages, but ultimately there will be 'core' activities common to them all:

modification of cropping systems through access to technical inputs, more

effective extension support, and supplemental water resource development.

The overall purpose of the project is to improve farming productivity and

the utilization of households' resources, as well as the livelihoods of low

income families in areas not included in the service zones of major irrigation

schemes. Under this, the specific objectives are:

1. To assist farmers to adopt practices suitable to local conditions and

to overcome risk due to variable rainfall by developing a package of

technologies and resources which specifically addresses the problems

of rainfed agriculture.

2. To provide adequate extension and other services to farmers.

3. To establish a research and demonstration program responsive to

farmers' needs, thereby increasing farmers' awareness of economic


4. To improve the year-round supply of supplemental water for vegetable-

growing, livestock-raising, and domestic usage.

5. To provide a suitable framework for matching farmers' needs to Govern-

ment resources and capabilities, and to improve the coordination of

different agencies with relevant activities and programs.

Implications of a farming systems approach for this study

The means of implementing the project will be based on a farming systems

approach: investigating the conditions of farming, introducing on-farm re-

search trials, and making the extension services more efficient and responsive

to farmers' needs. It needs to be stressed that the NERAD project does not

commence with an inventory of inputs to be introduced. The actual interven-

tions made in a farming systems approach depend heavily on the process of ac-

cumulating knowledge as the project advances, and as initial experiments turn

into progressive refinements. Hence this study cannot assess likely impacts

of predetermined changes.

At the outset of the project it is not clear which villages or groups of

households will be chosen for initial interventions, or even what their deter-

mining characteristics should be. It is intended that all delivery systems

will be designed to ensure access to them by the poorest farmers, and it is

hoped that these households will gain the most benefit. But a social analysis

background paper warned that since land reform and debt relief schemes are not

contemplated the final distribution of benefits might be otherwise.1

Because poverty and indebtedness are locality problems as well as household

class problems, it is not easy to choose an appropriate balance between

targeting villages and targeting categories of households.

Women in the project

The social background paper also noted that owing to the local practice

of matrilineality (or, more accurately, female descent of land) women should

gain a great deal from the project. One of the expected results of the

emphasis on improving the utilization of household labor is that women will be

more involved in farm economic activities, including tasks at peak periods of

labor requirements, supplemental on-farm activities such as horticulture and

animal care, basic food processing, and preparation and marketing. There is

also mention of women being trained in subjects that they are interested in,

and being involved in the planning and implementation of various projects and

sub-projects, such as silk production, animal husbandry, and fishery. But

these activities are not included in the core activities of the project, and

it remains to be seen how and if they are incorporated in the farming systems


The social analysis paper stated that the effects of the project on fer-

tility are not foreseeable but that no ill effects are expected. Nevertheless

it is hoped that the conditions for success of family planning practice will

be better understood and that areas in which family planning is comparatively

weak will be identified so that they can be targeted. There was no mention of

examining the impact of the project's economic interventions on pro-natal or

anti-natal determinants.

The study

This study was undertaken when newly recruited project staff were making

visits to parts of the project area prior to selecting villages for initial

attention. Because of this the authors of this study went ahead and chose

villages that will not necessarily be the same as those that will receive

first attention from the project.

The purpose of this study is to contribute a household baseline data and

analytic component to the farming systems approach of the project. As such it

examines household resource allocation, distinguished between men's and

women's roles in labor input and financial management, and attempts to under-

stand the accommodations households make at different stages of their life

cycle. It also looks at the relation between the household's economic base

and health, fertility, and migration. It is hoped, thereby, to identify some

of the constraints on improving production and income as well as suitable in-

terventions to ease those constraints. Since locality asset status determines

options, village characteristics of households' resource allocation are

examined in addition to socio-economic characteristics.

Since the project is only beginning and will not follow the usual prac-

tice of implementing a fixed package of inputs and services, this study cannot

evaluate likely impacts of interventions. Instead it reviews the objectives

of the project in the light of its findings on the current situation, and

offers guidelines for selecting villages and household groups to receive

certain kinds of initial interventions.

In the remainder of Part I there is a brief overview of the area and the

people (descriptions of the sampled villages are given in the Annex), followed

by the Analytical Framework of the study. Finally the sampling methodology is

explained. The findings of the field research are analyzed in Part II. Under

different subject headings constraints on improving farm income are indicated.

Part III draws on this analysis to discuss the objectives of the project,

likely problems, and suggestions for their solution.

1/ Thailand. Northeast Rainfed Agricultural Development Project.

Supplemental Analysis to the Project Paper, Social Soundness Analysis.

Annex VII, pp. 14 and 15.


Differences in environment and income portfolios

The project area includes two tambon in the provinces of Nakhorn Phanom,

Chaiyaphum, Roi Et, and Sri Sa Ket. If the whole area is divided into upper

(Nakhorn Phanom), middle (Chaiyaphum and Roi Et) and lower (Sri Sa Ket), it

can be said that the lower and middle parts have been settled longer and have

carried heavier populations than the upper part due to better soil fertility

and water resource systems. The lower part has more roads than the middle

part, but not all roads are usable in the wet season. Only 4.5% of arable

land in the lower part is under controlled irrigation, 7.9% in the upper part,

and 8.8% in the middle part. Seasonal and year-to-year variations in rainfall

are significant everywhere and in some localities, notably in Chaiyaphum, the

rains can fail for several consecutive years.

Ecological differences give rise to farm size differences. In Nakhorn

Phanom, with poorer average soil fertility and many recently settled villages,

average farm size is largest well over 6 hectares. Chaiyaphum, the driest

of the provinces, has an average farm size of over 5 hectares. More produc-

tive Roi Et and Sri Sa Ket average almost 4 hectares and about 3.5 hectares,


The seasons also affect the availability of water for purposes of

kitchen-gardening, care of small livestock, drinking, and washing. Some of

the shallow and moderately deep wells used for general domestic purposes have

hand pumps. At the present time only one in 10 villages of the lower part of

the Region has a ground-water pump for year-round water, one in five villages

in the upper part, and one in four in the middle part. In addition there is

surface water in depressions and swamps. Another problem is the alarming rate

of deforestation. This has implications for the cost of fuel for cooking in

terms of money and labour time, and the pasturing of large livestock.

Table 1 provides a geo-physical explanation of crop-mix and sources of

income in the eight tambon of the NERAD area. Rice yields vary amongst the

tambon from 0.6 to 1.4 tons per hectare. Overall these yields have not

altered markedly from their levels of two decades ago; the increase in total

output since then being due to greater planted area. Cash crops are princi-

pally dry season or upland crops. The observed strong rank covariation be-

tween net rice income and total net income among the 8 tambon illustrates the

dominant position of rice cultivation. However, there is no discernible posi-

tive or negative rank covariation among other sources of income, or between

them and total net income. This reflects the many different combinations of

climate, soil types, and land availability for grazing in relation to markets,

communications, and sources of wage employment.

Apart from uncertain rainfall, the element of risk in investing in higher

productivity methods is aggravated by declining soil fertility and changing

markets. Cassava and kenaf (Thai jute) outputs have increased substantially

in the last decade but both crops are believed to be suffering yield declines

through soil exhaustion. Cassava has been favored by farmers because of high

real prices and low labor input, but within the last year restrictions on

cassava imports into the EEC have placed future exports in jeopardy. Kenaf

has suffered from uncertain markets and prices since the revival of jute in

Bangladesh. Groundnuts, fruits, and vegetables enjoy growing domestic and

export markets and their prices have risen relative to the price of kenaf

since 1974. Small field, intensive, dry season tobacco cultivation is becom-

ing increasingly popular because of the credit, extension services, and mar-

keting offered by Adams International Tobacco Company.

Socio-economic stratification

In most areas of the Northeast the percentage of households renting land

is believed to be less than 5%. There is some evidence, however, that tenancy

rates are rising. The influence of farm cash inputs and market-orientation of

production, moving villages away from own-consumption production, has had the

usual result of growing inequality of land and income distribution through in-

curred debt. This is particularly true of the long-settled areas of

Chaiyaphum where year to year differences in rainfall patterns make investment

in cash inputs extremely risky. The size of some debts would suggest that for

poorer, smaller farmers the debt burden could be almost one half of annual net

income. The inevitable outcome of debt has been the emergence of a class of

landless villagers. This class is smaller than it otherwise would be because

of outmigration of whole families. Bangkok has received most of those seeking

employment outside the rural sector. However, there has also been a great

deal of rural-rural migration within the Northeast, on balance from the more

densely populated and intensively cultivated southeast corner to the north,

and, to a lesser extent, to the north-west and south-west.

The relationship between average village or tambon income and the inci-

dence of poverty cannot be put in simple terms. The majority of poor house-

holds in the NERAD area do not live in easily distinguished 'poor' villages.

This is because income inequalities are greater within villages than between

them. For instance, in tambon Lahan, in Chaiyaphum, there are very few people

living in 'poorer' villages yet the tambon has the third highest incidence of

poverty in all NERAD tambon. This means that the majority of tambon Lahan's

poor must exist within the 'less poor' of its villages. Nevertheless, there

are pockets of 'poor' villages, such as in tambon Kwang Jone, Na Muang, and

Nong Kaew, where environmental factors indicate that targeting on 'poorer'

villages might reach half of the poor in a single tambon.

Inheritance, farm size, and the economic value of kin relations

Since land is often used as collateral, the system of inheriting land is

relevant to a farming systems study. With inheritance goes kin-based support

systems and sometimes the pooling of land, labor, and finance. The Northeast

is characterized by matrilocal descent of land and uxorilocal marriage (which

may be accompanied by village endogamy or exogamy). In the case of farms too

small to be divided, inheritance practice is commonly female ultimogeni-

turel: the youngest daughter inherits everything. This solution is based

on the premise that older daughters are safely launched into marriage and

motherhood by the time the parents are deceased. The youngest daughter and

her husband commonly care for her aged parents and work their land until the

parents' death. Where the farm is large enough to tolerate partible inheri-

tance it is divided equally between the daughters, or, if even larger, between

all children, with the youngest daughter (or youngest married daughter at time

of parents' death) also inheriting the house. The ethnic Phu Thai in Nakhorn

Phanom practice bilateral inheritance. If a son or daughter takes a marriage

partner who already has, or anticipates inheriting, a sizeable area, he or she

may waive inheritance rights. These accommodations help to explain the degree

of stability of small size of holdings.

Husbands' kin can provide supporting economic ties too. Whereas a rice-

deficit household might obtain its rice requirements from the uxorilocal ex-

tended family, bilateral extension of kin ties are used to supplement the

functions of the matrilocal extended kin. For instance, husbands' kin are

important for economic endeavors which require a large body of workers beyond

the capacity of the matrilocal extended family. Also, the relatives of the

husband can be used for contacts in other villages and in the towns to find

wage employment.

In general parent-daughter and sister-sister kin relations are the most

significant social and economic ties.2

1/ Chavivun Prachuabmoh, A Comparative Study of the Kinship Systems of Tai

Speaking Peasants in Thailand in Relation to the Problems of Evolution and

Ecological Adaptation in Social Structure, December 10, 1976, Thammasat

University, Bangkok.

2/ Chavivum Prachuabmoh, op. cit. and H. Leedom Lefferts, 'Change and Popula-

tion in a Northeastern Thai Village,' in Population and Development in

Southeast Asia, John F. Kantner and Lee McCafferty (eds.) Lexington,

Mass.: D.C. Heath and Col., 1975.


Analyses of farm resource allocation and incentives are commonly made at

the household level, and differences are ascribed to socio-economic class of

households. Inherent in this is the unspoken assumption that, within the

household, labor units are equally substitutable and mobile between income-

earning ventures, while choice, risk-aversion and income benefits are held in

common by all household members. But labor inputs, felt returns, constraints,

and attitudes to risk apply to individuals as well. In many parts of the

world economic exchange goes on within the household, suggesting that the

household should not be seen as a corporate economic unit. Finally, the

household goes through its own life cycle with changes in constraints and

primary goals of production and wage employment. If a project is to expand

households' overall capabilities all these things need to be taken into

account. The following discussion elaborates on these considerations and

indicates the subjects that were covered in interviews with respondents.

Definition of the household

If the project is to assume that the household is the primary unit of

production and economic decision-making it is relevant to attempt to define

it. Economic studies have defined a household as that collection of individ-

uals farming a piece of land, but this fails to allow for more than one house-

hold working and benefitting from the same piece of land. During a pilot

study in March 1982 it became apparent that a significant minority of 'houses'

were sharing land and pooling labor and finance. Some went further to share

granaries and even cooking. This left sleeping quarters, or a roof, as the

lowest common denominator of a household. This definition of a household unit

represents, as closely as any can, the primary unit of family reproduction.

It also has the advantage that in the great majority of cases those sharing

one roof farm, exclusively, the land which is owned by one or more of the

people living under that roof. For this reason it was chosen as the household

unit for enumeration. It was acknowledged that this and all other definitions

carry imperfections and have relative advantages and disadvantages according

to the purpose of a study. However, the definition of the household used here

does carry implications for the selection of households for initial interven-

tion and input delivery systems since a minority of households pool farm re-

sources with those of a close relative (usually parents). The alternative, to

identify farming units which may be composed of several households with vary-

ing degrees of economic cohesion, was rejected as too complicated for a farm-

ing systems approach with fully stretched extension services. Instead, this

study sought information on percentages of households which pool land, labor,

finance, and output; and some of their more various characteristics.

Reproduction of the household base and the issue of risk

A household has a life cycle and its composition can change through mar-

riage, births, divorce, migration, and deaths, before it separates into a

new generation of households. Younger generations do not simply break away on

reaching adulthood. Sons may leave, while daughters remain resident for some

years with new husband and first or second child. Thus dependency ratios can

vary widely over this cycle. It can be expected that the household labor

force and financial assets will be quite different in the cases of a young

nuclear family and a large multi- generation household, with resulting differ-

ences in crop-mixes, cash inputs, yields, and income portfolios. Their

respective felt constraints and needs will also be different. Especially in

very dry areas, where risks of farming are high, the ability of a household to

deploy labor in a wide range of employment and to underwrite farming risks

with wages and remittances can determine its response to a project's interven-


The literature on Thai agriculture reiterates the emphasis farmers place

on subsistence rice which allows the household at least to eat even if (vola-

tile) cash income is foregone. This is demonstrated in the Northeast where

rice acreage has been extended in the absence of an increase in yields. There

are, of course, environmental limits to achieving this 'food first' strategy,

and in some areas rice output may be more volatile than cash crop income. The

implications of this for agricultural promotion are that farmers' responses to

the creation of a gap between actual and potential total crop production by

planned interventions (as discussed in the NERAD project documents) may be

conditioned by the security of their current degree of rice self-sufficiency.

Closing the deficit between rice production and consumption in the worst

years might overcome this conditioning factor. As women are more concerned

with domestic aspects of household reproduction it might be hypothesized that

this leads them to express more reservation over risky commercialization of

agriculture. Their opinion is especially important since this is an area

where they are the majority landholders. Therefore questions on relative

risks attached to cash crops and rice were asked of men and women separately.

It might also be hypothesized that families with young children are more con-

cerned with rice self-sufficiency than other families. These two hypotheses

are tested in this study.

But reproduction has a wider meaning than mere physical maintenance of

household members. A network of obligations amongst kin and the broader set

of traditional social relations has a real economic influence through expendi-

ture-displacing exchange labor and through cheaper credit passing amongst

relatives and friends. Land may be rented ostensibly free, but invariably

with some immediate or undated quid pro quo. The development of formal chan-

nels of credit, of commercialization of production, and of commoditized labor

might be seen as a threat to traditional relationships because if the economic

ties disappear the social ties will lose much of their basis. Women may be

more sensitive to this than men because kin support systems are mainly based

on women's kin. The privatized nuclear family with no moorings in informal

economic relations then becomes particularly vulnerable, especially in a risky

rainfed environment. Hence the strength of traditional economic arrangements

and attitudes amongst farmers to approaches made by members of official insti-

tutions need to be gauged and assessed as likely constraints to accepting in-


Few would doubt that risk is a constraint on innovation in the NERAD

area. But farmers, through the very nature of their enterprise, are prepared

to take some risks. What is of interest are the means by which farmers

believe they can limit risks. For instance, how do they perceive the impor-

tance of information about credit and labor requirements, access to markets,

and prices before deciding whether to adopt a new crop technology? One could

hypothesize that any one of these factors is the most important in the absence

of any background information on the area. In this study men and women,

respectively, were asked questions on the relative importance of these factors

in making a decision on crop innovations. Respondents were also asked whether

they considered wage employment to be more or less risky than producing cash

crops, and whether it was more important to promote non-agriciltural employ-

ment than higher crop yields.

Labor deployment and income portfolios

Household labor availability is often assessed in terms of 'adult male

equivalents' of all members. But when agricultural tasks and off-farm employ-

ment are sex and age typed this is a blunt analytical instrument. If labor is

a constraint on adopting better methods of cultivation it is important to

learn whose labor constraint this is, how severe it is, and in what periods of

the year it occurs. Crop promotion can exacerbate or modify the overall

(annual) sexual division of labor while at the same time placing more seasonal

stress on one household member already seasonally very stretched. In Thailand

the sexual division of labor in agriculture is not as sharp as in many other

countries but the literature, though inconsistent, indicates that it does

exist. Also women assume the major responsibility for domestic work and water

collection. It is hypothesized that women's workload is more of a constraint

than men's in introducing selected crops or other income-gaining opportuni-


Women's labor is not as mobile as men's because of their domestic respon-

sibilities. Therefore project interventions to plan any home industry, and

non-farm employment at the village and tambon levels for the landless and

seasonably unemployed, need to incorporate the sexual division of labor.

Household labor deployment cannot be seen merely in terms of the division

between farming and non-farming work such that their respective returns at the

margin are equated. One of the main functions of a farming systems approach

is to understand why farmers do what they do, especially when that appears to

contradict microeconomic theory. For example, securing the farm as the pri-

mary basis of a livelihood might require an income component of wages to sup-

port year round cash flow requirements. Again, if cash input incurs more debt

or sources of income become less diverse farmers may perceive there is more

risk in the required labor deployment. Because of this, information on the

extent and duration of off-farm wage employment, the earmarking of cash in-

come, and the willingness to give up some wage employment if necessary to

give more attention to agriculture, was sought to help assess some of the

obstacles to raising farm productivity and income. In addition, data on cur-

rent sources of credit and on the range of interest rates paid, by village and

farm status, were obtained to throw light on necessary delivery of additional

credit costs should off-farm sources of cash income be surrendered.

Assets, sources of credit, and cash flows

The project is to include improvement of credit delivery systems. Thus

the current state of the credit market is an important part of baseline infor-

mation. Past foreclosures on land are an indication that some loans, at

least, are obtained using land as collateral. But with a wide range of both

formal and informal sources of credit, demands by creditors for collateral

cannot be assumed in all cases. Although interest rates ought to be lower

when collateral is part of the contract, in this poorly and unevenly developed

credit market collateral may be demanded by some of the most expensive as well

as the cheapest sources of credit. Nevertheless we can hypothesize that

interest rates are lower when collateral is requested. The state of the local

credit market, and especially credit from relatives and friends, is also

important in determining interest rates. A hypothesis could be tested that

where these sources of credit are plentiful, interest rates are lower. Large

farm size often bestows social and political status which in itself can im-

prove access to information, to Farmers' Group membership, or to bank man-

agers' offices. It is therefore of particular interest to planners of im-

proved credit supplies to know of existing channels of cheap credit and to

what extent these are determined by farm size and membership of local organi-

zations, as well as any implications for women-headed households. Questions

were asked of respondents concerning these issues.

Extension services

Any farming systems approach relies heavily on extension services for its

progressive accumulation of knowledge and to feed back information on the

results of initial interventions. With limited extension services it is

pertinent to examine the relevance of the existing extension services to

farmers' needs as well as present determinants of access to them. During the

pilot survey for this study it became very apparent that women do not attend

meetings and demonstrations organized by agricultural extension officers. If

this represents the true situation then women-headed households could be dis-

criminated against unless they have other sources of information.

Male and female respondents were asked whether they had attended exten-

sion demonstrations; if not, why not, and whether their cropping methods had

been influenced by them. Visits of extension officers to homes, the purpose

of these visits, and to whom the officers spoke, were also inquired into. In

addition, the hypothesis that women would be more interested in agricultural

extension if there were women extension officers was tested by a direct ques-

tion to male and female respondents. They were also asked if they would like

to see women officers.

Individual and household opportunity costs

Microeconomics tells us that the individual will work up to the point

where he considers that the return to his last unit of work compensates him

for the bother of it. The problem is that the farming household is not an

individual producer or consumer. Its members have their individual workloads,

and income returns may accrue to the whole household in a diffused manner, in

certain arbitrary proportions, or exclusively to one individual, depending on

who controls income. A higher productivity crop technology or new crop-mix is

likely to entail a rearrangement of individuals' work portfolios. And if

sources of income are changed the control and earmarking of income might also


Therefore men and women can see the costs and returns of new opportuni-

ties in different lights. A view of the 'household's opportunity cost' fails

to distinguish between individuals' opportunity costs. The present economic

authority of Thai women is comparatively strong, largely due to inheritance

and matrilocal practices. But this could change under the impact of institu-

tional arrangements which commonly assume the male head of household is the

custodian of household labor, credit, and income, as well as the principal

decision-maker. Investigating the process of household decision-making is

notoriously difficult because of its diffused and nebulous nature. This

study, intended to provide baseline data and analysis for the project in a

short period of time, did not have the resources to utilize the in-depth

methodologies for investigating decision-making. Nevertheless, questions were

asked on members who sell the crops, retain the income, or negotiate the

credit, and more open-ended questions were asked on the extent of joint deci-

sion-making on farm management.

Population implications

Migration from and within the Northeast is a reflection of population

pressures on land. But this alone cannot explain why Thailand has experienced

widespread acceptance of family planning and seen a remarkable fall in fertil-

ity in the last decade. The country's unusual family planning promotion has

undoubtedly played a part.

Factors commonly stated to determine family size include the need for a

large family labor force (use of child labor), assurance of security in old

age, availability of acceptable means of birth control, and women's access to

resources. The last of these is largely assured at the present time because

of land inheritance practices, and is likely to have been an influence on

recent ready acceptance of better control.

Data obtained in this study include children's on-farm labor contribu-

tions for different household compositions, and the incidence of economic

relationships between households at different stages of the life cycle but

belonging to a common stem family. Constraints on further acceptance of

family planning must include women's opinions on birth control methods and on

the delivery of these services, since it can be hypothesized that the quality

of these services affect acceptance. Women were therefore asked which method

of birth control they used, their (ranked) preference for available methods,

how they first heard about family planning, what they did to obtain more in-

formation, whether they contemplated sterilization, and what they thought

could be done to improve services. Distance of the village from the nearest

health center was observed by the enumerators.

Survival of children to adulthood is often assumed to be a factor encour-

aging lower fertility rates. It is hypothesized that in the Northeast, where

seasonal factors play such a significant role in production and water collec-

tion, the major constraints to lowering infant mortality and morbidity are

found in certain months of the year and are closely associated with seasonal

work stresses on women. If this is found to be true it has implications for

specific "preventive health measures" in the design of the project's economic

and technological interventions. Respondents were asked in which months of

the year any miscarriages or infant deaths had occurred, whether breastfeeding

was prematurely reduced or terminated in certain months, and how cooking,

breastfeeding, and child care were arranged during periods of peak activity by


The recent fertility transition is producing smaller families but it can

be hypothesized that ideal family sizes are smaller in areas of greater land

scarcity. This was tested by questioning respondents on their idea of the

most suitable family size.

One aspect of population which appears of increasing importance is the

role of migrating children, their remittances to the family, and the likeli-

hood of their returning later to farm the land. In her case studies of rural

daughters working in Bangkok, Pasuk Phongpaichitl describes the substantial

amounts of money remitted by them to their parents. The recent decline in

family sizes might be encouraging more children to return or a move to bi-

lateral land inheritance if fewer daughters are present when parents wish to

retire from active farming. Thus questions were asked about remittances of

children (by sex), whether parents expected their migrant children to return

to the farm, and which children were expected to inherit the land.

1/ Pasuk Phongpaichit, Rural Women of Thailand: From Peasant Girls to

Bangkok Masseuses, World Employment Programme, Research Working Paper WEP

10/WP. 14, ILO, Geneva, November 1980.


The cnly information about villages in the NERAD area upon which to draw

for choosing a sample of villages was the USAID 1978-79 survey of over 60 vil-

lages. This survey deserted agro-economic conditions, per household income,

main problems encountered by farmers, and so on.

The villages in this study were chosen to represent, as far as possible,

a range of climatic and agro-economic conditions, and proximity to all-weather

roads. In addition, villages within each province were selected on the basis

of a difference between their average household incomes. It was originally

intended to select two villages from each of the four provinces plus two con-

trol villages from outside the project area, and to sample 40 households in

each village. However, in one tambon in Nakhorn Phanom province there was an

opportunity to compare two neighboring villages with similar natural endow-

ments but greatly differing average household incomes. Since Na Khoi Noi had

only 22 households it was decided to sample all of them and to add another 22

households from the village of Na Khoi. Also the enumerators unexpectedly

found that the village of Kratum in Sri Sa Ket province had only 17 house-

holds, so 23 households were added from the neighboring (and similar) village

of Nong Yod. Finally, when the chosen villages of Nong Pan (in Roi Et pro-

vince) and Yang (in Sri Sa Ket province) were found to contain only 45 and 42

households, respectively, it was decided to sample the whole population of

households in them.

The choice of the two control villages was more difficult for they could

scarcely represent all conditions between them. After much deliberation Na

Wang, in the very dry and poor province of Chaiyaphum, was chosen because it

appeared to be more economically successful than its natural endowment would

suggest, due to the high degree of organization and motivation amongst its

residents. It was therefore suitable to assess progress of the project in

those villages where agricultural services are targeted. The other control

village, Or in Sri Sa Ket province, is a poor, isolated, and monocultural rice

cropping village from which there is extensive seasonal migration. As such it

is similar to several project villages chosen. Later on in the study it also

provides the basis of comparison to assess the effectiveness of the project

against a background of general changes in the economy such as new markets and

increasing migration.

Altogether 413 households were studied over 12 villages.

In order to obtain a selection of male and female respondents, of women-

headed households, and of households of elderly couples, the enumerators were

asked to follow, in each village, the simple formula of:

(a) up to 5 women-headed households;

(b) up to 5 households headed by elderly parents, or one elderly parent;

(c) at least 30 households constituted with both parents active, and from

which the respondents should be approximately 50% male and 50%


The enumerators were also asked to select from category (c) approximately

14 households with very small holdings or no land at all, 9 with average size

holdings, and approximately 9 with large size holdings. Since average holding

size can vary considerably by area, a common set of size ranges could not be

fixed for all the villages. In the analysis of the findings, farm size was

defined as land owned plus parents' land which was used. The reason for this

was that variables (such as credit, hired labor, and dependency ratios) had to

be studied against land assets under the permanent control of the household or

S of closely-related kin (that is excluding rented land which could vary from

year to year). To some extent this meant that land used under a pooling

arrangement was accredited to one household, but data on resource pooling ar-

rangements showed where this occurred.

The outcome of these guidelines for the village samples is given below.


Don Daeng

Na Khoi

Na Khoi Noi

Lahan (No.2)

Kwang Jone

Sa Wang


Nong Pan



Nong Yod


Number of households

Number of respondents

Using parents'
Total Sampled Women-headed Landless land wholly Male Female

113 40 5 4 6 17 23

124 22 2 2 2 9 13

22 22 2 1 2 9 13

340 41 5 4 6 13 28

146 40 4 3 2 19 21

242 40 5 0 4 16 24

131 40 5 3 5 17 23

45 45 4 1 8 22 23

42 42 2 4 10 16 26

17 17 3 0 3 8 9

23 23 2 0 2 11 12

83 41 5 2 5 20 21

413 44 24 55 177 236

Each respondent was interviewed twice with the second interview including

more open-ended questions of a qualitative nature than the first. The ques-

tions asked are discussed in the Analytical Framework. Ten women students

from Khon Kaen University were used for the enumeration, and sent in pairs to

reside in a village for one month (with Na Khoi and Na Khoi Noi together, and

Kratum and Nong Yod together, taken as only two villages respectively) before

moving on to another village for the second month of the field investigation.

This method of intensive investigation was designed to enable them to learn

about general problems of the village, to take any opportunity to talk infor-

mally with villagers, and to obtain information about village activities and


The field investigation took place between mid-April and mid-June 1982.

This period covered the end of the dry season and the start of land prepara-

tion for the rice crop.


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The presence of grown children in households was less in villages experi-
encing greater land shortage, but grown daughters tended to migrate less where
vegetables were intensively grown in the dry season, than elsewhere. There is
some evidence that small farm size leads to nuclearization of the households.
Pooling of farm resources between related households is more common in poorer
villages, and women-headed households are more involved than men-headed house-
holds in pooling arrangements. Within villages there is no discernible influ-
ence of farm size on either the pooling of farm resources or the sharing of

Household Composition

The composition of a household provides data on its labor force, its

dependency ratio, and the tendency of older children to migrate or set up

separate households.

The respondents comprised 236 women and 177 men. All the men were mar-

ried except for 2 widowers and 1 'other', presumably separated or 'divorced'.

(Since marriages are not registered there were no admissions of divorce.)

Thirty-six of the 44 women heads of household were widows, 5 deserted, and 3


Table 2 gives data on household composition. Over all 12 villages, 122

households reported having 1 or more daughters of at least 18 years of age

still in residence, and 101 reported 1 or more sons of at least 18 years still

resident. There were large differences by village but these could not be

related to land scarcity. Only in Don Daeng, Kratum and Nong Yod were there

large differences between the numbers of households reporting the presence of


of Older


*grown daughters and grown sons, with grown sons much more likely to have

migrated than grown daughters. The two Sri Sa Ket villages cultivate water-

melon and vegetables in the dry season and this might hold young female labor

at home since these crops are predominantly cultivated by women. The low

reporting of grown children of either sex in Song and Or must be related to

the fact that tobacco is the only significant cash crop in Song and no cash

crops are being grown in Or. Therefore, family labor requirements are rela-

tively small.

The presence of 'others' in the households also indicates the presence of

multigeneration or extended family households. Others include siblings and

their spouses, and spouses of married children. Resident sisters (of the head

of household) were reported from 2 households in Yang and 3 in Nong Pan, and

one resident brother in Or. Multigeneration households are most frequently

S reported in the three Chaiyaphum Villages, and in Nong Pan and Yang.

The relative prevalence of multigeneration and nuclear households could

have an effect on dependency ratios. The dependency ratio used here is:

number of resident members less than 15 and over 64
number of resident members between 15 and 64 years.
)ependency It might be expected that the villages with higher frequencies of nuclear

Ratios (or near-nuclear) households show greater frequencies of higher dependency

ratios. The 3 Chaiyaphum villages and Yang do have small percentages of

dependency ratios above 1.5. Nong Pan has a high percentage which can be

explained by greater numbers of households with large numbers of children

under 15 years of age and the comparatively fewer households with resident

children over 18 years. The low numbers of multigeneration households in the

Sri Sa Ket villages shows itself in the high percentage of households with

dependency ratios above 1.5.

Migration and birth control patterns may be affected by small farm size.

But there is some evidence from the data that small farm size is leading to

nuclearization of the household accompanied by higher dependency ratios. The

particular implication of high dependency ratios for women's work stress at

seasonal peak periods can be seen to be moderated by having less land to cul-


Pooling of farm resources with another household.

Nuclear households can, of course, be sharing the use of land and pooling

other resources (labor, credit and cash inputs) with another household. Table

3 summarizes, on a village basis, the incidence of use of land owned by

parents, and of sharing farm resources, granaries or cooking with another

household, which in many cases will be the parents' household. The frequen-

cies of households reporting use of parents' land are certainly high in Yang

and Kratum but in Nong Yod and Or they are no different from the Chaiyaphum

villages. One would expect some close covariation between households report-

ing use of land owned by parents and households reporting pooling of farm re-

sources although, with the likelihood of siblings' households also pooling re-

sources, not an equality. There is some rank covariation over all 12 vil-

lages. But, a striking feature of the table is that whereas in the villages

ig of Nakhorn Phanom, Chaiyaphum, and Roi Et, the pooling resources is much more

;ion frequent than merely the use of parents' land, in Sri Sa Ket the reverse is,

'ces dramatically, the case. In Sri Sa Ket the larger component of wages in total

income provides the young nuclear households with more independence from

parents as far as working capital is concerned, and encourages more formal

production sharing arrangements with parents than pooling resources entails.

Therefore the locus of decision-making in these villages is more likely to be

in the household of the younger generation when parents' land is used than in

the other villages.

When making interventions, the NERAD project needs to bear in mind that

in most villages between 10% and 20% of farming households pool their re-

sources with another household.

Pooling resources is more common in the poorer villages; yet Nong Pan, a

'rich' village, stands out with by far the highest rate. But this village is

also distinguished by tenancies, indebtedness, and sharecropping tenancies.

Some of the cases of pooling resources were between landlords and tenants.

This was the only village where such a relationship was reported.

Table 4 shows that women-headed households are consistently more involved

in resource pooling arrangements than men-headed households. This is heavily

influenced by women outliving their husbands and assuming headshipp' of house-

hold and land. Pooling arrangements would then be with the households of mar-

ried offspring. These cases should not present serious problems of delivering

credit and extension services as there is always likely to be an adult male

present in one or other of the households, although he will probably not be

the ultimate decision-maker. It is the young widowed or deserted woman who is

more vulnerable to exclusion from credit and extension services, especially if

she is not pooling resources.

ig There appears to be no relationship, by village averages, between pool-

,ies ing resources and sharing granaries, or between sharing granaries and cooking

arrangements. But nearly all individual cases of sharing granaries were also

ig pooling resources, the great majority being between parents and children under

separate roofs. In the three Chaiyaphum villages this relationship accounted

for all the cases of pooling and sharing. The small sample size did not allow

any conclusion on the greater incidence of pooling and sharir,g amongst women-

headed households. Where granaries and cooking were shared it was principally

between parents and married offspring. (See Table 5.) There were only 9

cases of sharing a granary with a sibling, almost always a sister (out of a

total of 58 cases), and 2 cases of sharing cooking with a sister (out of a

total of 13 cases). Thus when siblings pool resources this does not often

lead to sharing of granaries and cooking.

Overall there was no discernible influence of farm size on the pooling of

resources and sharing of granaries. But, in Don Daeng and Kwang Jone, pooling

of resources was disproportionately greater amongst the largest farms (which

might explain the lower dependency ratios amongst larger farms), while in Nong

Pan and Nong Yod it was disproportionately greater amongst smaller farms (per-

haps reflecting small indebted farmers sharecropping in Nong Pan and siblings'

nuclear households pooling resources and supplementing income with wages in

Nong Yod).


Although men are more involved than women in land preparation and spray-
ing, the variation between villages in the sexual division of labor suggests
that there are no strong cultural barriers to substitution between male and
female farm labor. A notable feature is the very small amount of child labor
used in agriculture. Exchange labor and hired labor is extensively used, more
so in some villages than others. Harvesting and planting of rice are the two
peak labor periods. Migration of grown children intensifies the use of men's
labor more than women's. The ratio of seasonal to casual wage employment is
higher in poorer villages where water resources permit little or no dry season
agriculture. In nearly all the villages studied home industry is predominant-
ly directed to own-use.
The great majority of both male and female respondents claimed that
migration of children and greater secondary crop cultivation had led to
greater additional work for men than for women in recent years. Nearly all
respondents rejected the hypothesis that families with young children were
more concerned with self-provisioning rice production than other families, on
the grounds that women with young children could cope least well with rice
labor demands.

This section looks at the way households deploy their labor in all on-

farm and off-farm activities because of locality differences in agricultural

labor demands and the need for wage income to finance farm inputs.

Seasonal variation in agricultural work and the division of labor "

Where land is of poor quality and water resources for agriculture in the

dry season are meager, farm size tends to be above the regional average and

great effort is put into the single rice crop. But the tasks of weeding and

spraying are pursued less vigorously. The peaks of farming activity are

therefore sharp for land preparation, planting, and harvesting; and the

periods of lack of farming work are more extended. The smaller farms in the

more fertile and better-watered areas require a more even spread of labor in-

put in rice and, in addition, usually have smaller plots on which cash crops

are intensively cultivated in the dry season.

To gauge the intensity of work on rice and cash crops respondents were
Asked, for each cultivation task, whether household members worked both

mornings and afternoons. They were not asked how many members did this. It

was believed that a separation of mornings and afternoons would give a rough

indication of pressure of work, because the afternoons are hotter and there-

fore more unpleasant to work in, and women (at least) have domestic tasks.

Working members were separated into men, women, male children under 15 years,

and female children under 15 years.

The data on the use of household labor on rice growing is shown in Table

6. Children's labor was excluded because its low use did not justify adding

it to the table.

Labor None of the rice cultivation tasks is exclusive to one sex. Men mostly

or Rice dominate land preparation. However, in Kratum and Nong Yod women work both

S mornings and afternoons in land preparation in many households. This is prob-

ably due to the fewer resident male children of at least 18 years in these

villages. Householders here also reported that land preparation and planting

had to be hurried in order to get ahead of the rains. Slightly more women

than men do transplanting, and both sexes are called upon to perform this

labor-intensive work both mornings and afternoons. The intensity of planting

work is comparable with that of the harvesting period.

Very little weeding is done and women are only slightly more involved in

it than men. The greater weeding in Sri Sa Ket is due to the heavier doses of

fertilizers applied, and in Kratum, a very fertile soil.

Harvesting requires all available hands and in most villages mornings and

afternoons are worked with equal intensity by both sexes. There is no sign in

any of the villages that because men work a full day women are able to work

half days. This indicates the intensity of work at this time of year. Post-

harvest activities include a series of staggered tasks. The harvested crop is

tied in bundles and carried, first to a platform inside the field where it

might be threshed, and later to the granary. Mornings might be spent in tying

bundles and afternoons in carrying (Song), or vice versa (Don Daeng, Nong Pan,

and Nong Yod), or in any combination. Tying bundles seems to be men's work,

but in Nong Pan (which has the least specialization of tasks by sex), Yang,

and Kratum (absence of grown male children), women share this work almost

equally with men. Carrying, from the field to a cart, and then from the cart

to a storage or processing place, would appear to be performed equally by the

sexes, and there are no really significant exceptions. It is very clear that

the intensity of the work of tying bundles and carrying is related to average

farm size and rice field.

While the planting period is undoubtedly a peak work time, bringing in

the crop is a more protracted intensive work period in terms of both daily

hours worked and number of days involved. The variations in the sexual divi-

sion of labor suggest that there are no strong cultural barriers to substitu-

tion between male and female labor and that households make the best accommo-

dation they can within the limits of the supply of resident grown children,

hired and exchange labor. Nevertheless, there are obvious seasonal work

stresses on women who have additional domestic duties and may be pregnant or


An important feature of household labor use on rice cultivation is the

very small amount of child labor. For example, in Song, with small average

household size, only 7 households reported child labor in the fields at any

time. This village also used less than the average of hired labor. On the

other hand, all but one household reported using some exchange labor, princi-

pally for harvesting and post-harvest work.

To test the effect of migration of children on the sexual division of

labor, those villages with relatively few households reporting resident chil-

dren of over 18 years (Don Daeng, Lahan, Song, and Or) were compared with

those with many households reporting them (Kwang Jone, Nong Pan, and Yang).

As far as planting is concerned, the only difference was that in Nong Pan men

and women did not work as many afternoons as mornings. The same was true of

harvesting, which was also the case in Song. But on post-harvest activities a

contradiction appeared. Viewing all post-harvest activities together, house-

holds in Don Daeng and Song reported women spending far fewer of both mornings

and afternoons working than men; the same was true in the latter group of vil-

lages in Kwang Jone. For an explanation the data on hired and exchange labor

was looked at. Don Daeng and Kwang Jone were certainly above average for all

villages in the use of hired labor. Kwang Jone and Song reported a high inci-
dence in the use of exchange labor (36 out of 40 households), notably male

labor. But the remarkable case of very high hired and exchange labor use was

Or, where there was also little specialization of task by sex. The intensity

of rice cultivation and high yields must go some way to explain this full

deployment of all sources of labor.

Therefore, migration by village of grown children has some effect on the
intensity of both sexes' labor input and acts on the sexual division of labor

by intensifying the use of men's labor more than women's. But the work pres-

sure on household members is mitigated by the use of hired and exchange


Hired And


Labor or


Most hired labor is therefore used on rice growing but it is surprising

how few households use it. Part of the explanation must lie in the fact that

rice is mainly grown for own consumption so that wages would have to be found

from other sources. A more important factor is the widespread use of exchange

labor. In Song and Kratum all but one household, and in Nong Pan all but

three households, used exchange labor. And in Or all households used exchange


But the 'rich' village of Nong Pan, where very little hired labor is used

on rice, requires another explanation. According to the 1979-80 survey, area

planted to wet season rice averaged 28.6 rai. Cash inputs were moderately

high, and yields the highest of all villages. Nong Pan also sells the highest

proportion of its rice output. But it also has the largest average household

size, and above average reporting of resident children at least 18 years old.

S What is more important, perhaps, is that a large number of households rent

land, so that the large 'average area of farm size' planted to rice must be

qualified by renting and sharecropping arrangements in other words effective

subdivision. This could explain the very intensive use of household labor on

rice with few households hiring labor. It is noticeable that the data pro-

vided by this study showed that there was no hiring of labor on farm sizes

(owned in this study) above 20 rai; and only 2 farms between 10.1 and 20 rai

used hired labor.

Labor on The use of household labor on cash crops is shown in Table 7. The over-

Cash all sexual division of labor is similar to that for rice, that is, very flexi-

Crops ble. Land preparation for kenaf production starts in February and the crop is

harvested just before the rice harvest. The intensity of the work effort is

seen by the equal involvement of men and women and by both mornings and after-

noons worked. The relative absence of exchange labor in kenaf production is

due to the fact that it is mostly grown in Chaiyaphum province where hired

labor is more developed than elsewhere. Land preparation, planting and weed-

ing in the case of cassava is undertaken in the same early months of the year,

and it can be seen from the table that where it is grown by many households,

as in Don Daeng and Lahan, the cultivation tasks are done intensively. In

Lahan three weedings are sometimes performed. Some hired labor is used in

this village. The crop can be harvested from September onwards as it can be

left in the ground well beyond maturation.

Watermelons and vegetables are cultivated throughout the dry season and,

because they are grown on small plots, do not require the presence of all

household members over 15 years of age. Watermelon requires a great deal of

water and fertilizer, and farmers are careful to weed and spray the crop.

Apart from land preparation and spraying, which is very largely done by men,

there is no apparent sexual division of labor, and in only one household, in

Kratum, was child labor used (for harvesting). The ease of watermelon growing

shows itself in the fewer afternoons than mornings worked for most tasks.

In Song and Nong Pan, where almost all households grow tobacco, land pre-

paration for this crop commences immediately after the rice harvest and

harvesting takes place in April. The short growing period includes intensive

effort in planting and spraying (mostly done by men). The greater use of

female labor in harvesting, especially in Nong Pan, may be due to men being


The use of hired labor (see Table 8) on cash crops depends very much on

the crop. Hired labor on these crops is used almost exclusively in Don Daeng,

Lahan, Kwang, Jone, Na Wang and Song, and very largely on kenaf.

Wage employment

Table 10 gives data on men and women in wage employment, by duration of

employment. Seasonal and casual employment is much more important than full-

time employment, but the ratio of seasonal to casual differs by village owing

to variations in the time-table of household labor requirements in agriculture

imposed by water resources.

In Kwang Jone and Or seasonal employment is more important, but in Lahan

(cassava and kenaf growing), Na Wang (kenaf growing), and Nong Pan (almost all

households grow tobacco) casual employment is much more important (not so much

for women in Na Wang). A comparison of the division of labor in tobacco

growing and the division of casual and seasonal wage employment in Song and

Nong Pan provides a good example of the flexibility of the sexual division of

labor in farming when wage employment is also undertaken. The poorer villages

(outside of Nakhorn Phanom where there is not so much seasonal work) tend to

rely more on seasonal work, and the 'rich' villages on casual work. Average

income is, of course, influenced by the production bearing capacity of land

and water resources which in turn determines the agricultural time-table.

Home industry

Home industry is widely undertaken everywhere except in Song, and its in-

tensity is related to the degree of absence of agricultural activity in its

dry season. It consists almost entirely of silk production and weaving,

cotton weaving, and basket-making. Kwang Jone and Na Wang specialize in silk

production and weaving, and Don Daeng and Yang in basket-making. The villages

in Nakhorn Phanom and Chaiyaphum, and the village of Or in Sri Sa Ket, showed

high frequencies of cotton weaving. Weaving is done by women, but men take

part in basket-making by providing the materials from the forests. But except

in Na Wang (where 24 households produce and weave silk for sale) and in Yang

(where most basket-making is for sale) almost all this industry is for own-


Change and risk in labor deployment

There are two reasons why it might be supposed that farmers are working

harder on their farms than 5 years ago: grown children have migrated and

there has been more cash cropping, particularly in the south. To the question

'Do you think that changes in farming in your village in the last 5 years have

increased the amount of work done on farms?' only 12 out of the entire sample

claimed they had not. It was also clear that the majority of both male and

female respondents believed that more of this additional work was done by men

than by women. This suggests that the sexual division of labor in agriculture

attempts to accommodate women's domestic work when labor requirements in the

fields increase. However, in Na Wang (extensive kenaf growing) as many as 29%

of the respondents thought it had meant more work for women than men, and in

Nong Pan (widespread tobacco growing) 33%. There was virtually no difference

in replies of men and women in all the villages. When asked if wage employ-

ment had become more important in the last 5 years there was again an over-

whelming positive response, except in Song. Inflation was given as the main

reason. But greater monetization has led to more purchases of urban products

and a change in consumption patterns can feel like inflation.

Dry season wage employment (both local and more distant) was generally

regarded as more risky than crop production and, surprisingly, in view of the

drought, in Kwang Jone all respondents claimed this. This may be due to the

S absence of local employment, because of the dry conditions. But in Lahan, Na

Wang and Song, also with above average dependence on wage employment, there

were large minorities who felt wage employment was more risky. There were no

clear differences in replies by sex of respondent.

Perceptions Against expectations, (because of an assumed desire for rice self-suffi-

or Risk cency) there was an overwhelming negative response to the question 'When the

family is young (when there are several children under 10 years) do you think

parents put more emphasis on rice production?' The reason given was that rice

cultivation requires a great deal of work and that women with young children

do not have the time for it. Another reason given was that cash crops are

less risky.

The aversion to wage employment emerged more strongly in replies to the

question 'Do you think it more important for development in your village to

S promote non-agricultural wage employment than bigger crop yields?' Only 20 in

the whole sample of 413 stated 'more'. When framing the question it was

thought some might reply that bigger yields were not possible, and that they

had learned this from past experience. But the flat reason for their answer

was that people did not like leaving their villages and homes to find work.

Respondents were finally asked whether, if the extra work necessitated by

a new cropping method required someone in the household to give up wage

employment, they would accept it. Eighty-three percent of the whole sample

were still ready to accept it without further consideration. Women showed

some greater hesitation than men in Lahan, Song, and Or. When respondents

were invited to state in order of importance their considerations in making a

decision to adopt a new crop method, prices were most important, followed by

access to markets. Labor was the least important. Thus, in spite of acknow-

ledging that they work harder now than before, these farming households are

prepared to work harder to make their faris viable and to remain in the vil-



There were great differences between villages in the use of institutional
credit. No strong inverse relation was observed between use of BAAC and
Cooperative credit. The greater the use of (the cheaper) institutional credit
in a village, the lower the interest rates of friends, relatives, and money-
lenders tended to be. There was no observable difference between men- and
women-headed households' sources of credit.

A first perusal of the data on credit shows enormous differences in

sources by village and by farm size. The role of the formal institutions of

several kinds of cooperatives and farmers' groups, the Bank for Agriculture

and Agricultural Cooperation (BAAC), and an assortment of other banks was

strong in some villages, in others a rare phenomenon.

There were many problems in assessing interest rates. The principal one

was that credit was offered from all sources (both institutional and private)

in terms of the amount of money to be returned, while duration of the loan was

variable. Ostensibly institutional credit should be repaid at the end of the

seasons, but results were different. Enumerators did their best by asking how

long the loan was for and calculating interest on an annual basis. Another

problem was that credit might be raised for any combination of production,

house-building, land buying, education, or general expenses. A third problem

was that many farmers obtained fertilizer on credit from the Cooperative which

carried no direct interest, but the slightly higher price than that in towns

could be interpreted as a 4% interest rate. Finally, there was a great deal

of confusion amongst farmers as to what interest rates they were paying, even

to the banks.

S Institutional credit

Some comment needs to be made on the profusion of means of access to

institutional credit. The BAAC offers both money and credit fertilizer. A

borrower has to be a member of a BAAC Group. Collateral is either land (in

the case of individual applicants) or the co-signatures of other members of

the (joint-liability) BAAC Groups. The BAAC charged 13% interest in 1981.

The commercial banks appeared to have charged 18% in the few cases of this use

of institutional credit being reported.

Farmers' In Northeastern villages farmers' organizations, which can obtain fertil-

Groups izer on credit from Farmers' or Agricultural Cooperatives operating at a

higher level than the village, can be called Farmers' Groups, Rice Growers'

Groups, or Agricultural Groups. In this study they were all called "Farmers'

Groups" for convenience. Membership is influenced by size of holding (see

S later) as well as by kinship relations and by personal friendships. However,

non-members can still indirectly obtain fertilizer on credit from a Coopera-

tive, albeit at a higher effective interest rate. The Group leader asks all

members how many bags of fertilizer they want. The members might ask for more

than they need with the intention of selling the excess to relatives or

friends. Therefore, although the existence of an active Farmers' Group is a

major determinant of the use of institutional credit, the size of its member-

ship need bear no relation to the number of villages receiving such credit

fertilizer or to the numbers paying near the effective 4% interest. The

'excess' fertilizer may be sold at prices up to B.300 a bag (against the mem-

bers' cost of B.260). The effective interest rate on these sales can there-

fore be up to 19% (15% plus the effective 4% paid by Farmers' Group members).







It is unclear whether land collateral is requested for this kind of

credit in all cases. In Lahan loans of money obtained by four households

(seemingly direct) from a Farmers' Cooperative and an Agricultural Cooperative

were on the basis of land collateral. And in Don Daeng all three respondents

who obtained fertilizer on credit from the Cooperative used land as collater-

al. However, neither of the two recipients of this credit in Na Khoi did so.

In other villages, some recipients were asked to offer 'future income' as col-

lateral, but whether this was to Cooperatives or to members of Farmers' Groups

is again unclear. It may be that some or most of those reporting Cooperative

credit were not members of a Farmers' Group but obtained the fertilizer on

credit from a member who did not ask for land collateral. But there also

appeared to be genuine confusion amongst some respondents as to whether land

collateral was a condition for Cooperative credit.

Table 11 provides figures on the number of households using institutional

credit, by sex of household head and by agricultural purpose. The use of

credit, by village, is influenced by the degree of market-orientation of agri-

cultural production and by the amount of cash inputs (fertilizer on rice and

on extensive small-scale vegetable growing, and for hired labor, particularly

on kenaf). The cheaper institutional credit was more in evidence in the

better organized village of Na Wang (with a resident extension officer) and in

surplus rice producing Nong Pan (where as many as 13 of the 30 respondents who

received Cooperative credit were not actual members of a Farmers' Group).

There was no strong inverse relation observed between use of the BAAC and

the commercial banks on the one hand, and Farmers' Groups and Cooperatives on

the other. For instance, farmers in Na Wang and Nong Pan enjoyed cheap credit

from all institutional sources, while farmers in Or resorted heavily to money-

lenders and merchants. Within a village the interplay of political forces,

stemming from social prominence and holding size, affect the actual interest

rates paid by individual households. There is clearly a need for both target-

ting improved credit sources on some villages and devising means to democra-

tise the Farmers' Group.

Non-institutional credit

Private moneylenders and traders charged much higher interest rates than

the Cooperatives and the BAAC. In most instances interest rates were 40% and

higher in 1981 and 1982. Interest demanded by friends and relatives covered a

very wide range.

Table 12 gives figures for the number of households obtaining credit from

relatives, friends, and moneylenders/traders, by interest rate, and by use

made in agriculture, as far as was ascertainable.

Very few households in the Nakhorn Phanom villages used this credit. In

Lahan and Kwang Jone, in Chaiyaphum, credit from relatives and friends, when

it was obtained, was expensive, and could be as costly as credit from lenders

and traders. In Lahan many households used expensive market credit on cash

crops (cassava and kenaf) for hired labor, and for 80% of respondent house-

holds on tractor services. In Na Wang, which was noted by the enumerators as

a village enjoying a great deal of cooperation between villagers, relatives

and friends appear to lend on generous terms, and hardly any resort was made

to lenders and traders. But it should be noted that a large number of Na Wang

farmers also obtained fertilizer on credit from Cooperatives. The almost

total absence of credit from any non-institutional source in Nong Pan is due

to very heavy use of formal institutional credit. A comparison of the data in


of Insti-


Credit on




S Tables 11 and 12 reveals that there is some relation, by village, between

extent of use of institutional credit and interest rates charged by non-insti-

tutional credit sources. The more institutional credit the lower the interest

rates from other sources. The villages of Lahan, Yang, Kratum, Nong Yod, and

Or, are cases in point. Farmers in Or were totally dependent on very expen-

sive lenders and traders. Since the time when the leader of the Farmers'

Group failed to pass farmers' repayments to the Cooperative, the Cooperative

has refused to supply fertilizer on credit.

The hypothesis posed in the Analytical Framework states that where non-

institutional credit from relatives and friends is plentiful, interest rates

are lower. This has to be rejected. In fact, the presence of cheap institu-

tional credit acted as "price leader" in the credit market.

When there is no interest demanded it is judicious to ponder whether

. there is some other quid pro quo, such as an indefinite return of 'exchange

labor' or some gift of rice. But older, non-residential parents are likely to

be amongst the zero-interest creditors. All cases of creditor-friends were

operating at over 20% interest, but the majority at less than 40%. Money-

lenders and traders were more explicitly in the free market. A minority were

charging less than 50%, and most between 50% and 75%; but in Or some were

charging between 100% and 150%. In nearly all cases moneylenders and traders

did not ask for collateral.

Selling It can be concluded that the hypothesis that interest rates are lower

Crops when collateral is requested was proved in general. Another means of raising

"Green" credit, though for immediate cash needs rather than for purchasing inputs, is

selling crops green. In this study when respondents were asked 'Do you sell

any crop when it is still standing in the field?', they were quick to ask

whether this meant when the crop was very young and truly green or when it was

mature. Because the study was seeking to find out about the intensity of

credit needs the case of truly green crops was stipulated. Only in Nong Pan

were there any instances; and only three.

Many respondents mentioned many cases of selling the crop just before

harvest. These involved cash crops, notably the perishable watermelon and

vegetables, and pre-harvest selling was associated with the practice of the

trader organizing and paying for the harvesting.

Women-headed households

There was no observable difference between men-and women-headed house-

holds' sources of credit. In most cases of the latter the women heads were

widows well over the average age of respondents and with grown children to

arrange credit. Since most of the young widows were sharing farm resources

with other households their credit problems would be shared with those house-




At Demon-



Farmers' experience of extension services was unsatisfactory in most vil-
lages, and in some very poor indeed. The presence of a resident extension
officer in one village meant that visits to farmers included a general discus-
sion of farming issues instead on dissemination of advice on a particular
crop, and no discrimination in extension service delivery against women. In
general, visits by extension officers to farmers tended to be determined by
above average farm size and by some householder's membership of the Village
Committee. Both male and female respondents were overwhelmingly in favor of
having women agricultural extension officers. Far fewer women than men were
members of Farmers' Groups, and of these women there was a strong tendency for
them to have very large farms.

Existing Extension Services

Farmers' experience of extension services is unsatisfactory to say the

least, and in Lahan, Kratum, and Or very poor indeed. Table 13 gives replies

to the questions 'If an agricultural demonstration has been held in your vil-

lage, did you attend it?' and 'Has an agricultural extension officer ever

visited your house?'. The replies to the first question also revealed that
some were not aware that such a demonstration had been held.

Men's attendance at demonstrations appears comparatively good in the

Nakhorn Phanom villages and in Nong Pan and Yang. But elsewhere few men seem

to have witnessed an agricultural demonstration. The picture is far worse for

women, except in Na Wang (where a higher proportion of women than men attended

one), in Nong Pan (where half the women claimed to have attended one), and in

Song (where equal proportions of men and women respondents have seen a demon-


Amongst reasons given for not attending, the most common, especially for

women, was lack of time. 'Not interested' or 'relied on someone else to go'

came next, with men and women proportionately about equal on both reasons.

When respondents who had attended demonstrations were asked whether they

had influenced their cropping methods, the positive responses came mostly from

the Roi Et villages.

It is noticeable that in the Chaiyaphum and Sri Sa Ket villages extension
services are very poor. In one village farmers reported that the tambon

extension officer visits the village once every two months. More often they

see him pass on his motorcycle on his way to the more 'accelerated' villages.

When he does stop his meetings are for 'leading farmers' (larger-scale farmers

and members of Village Committees see later) of which about 10 participate.
Home Visits Interestingly, in Nong Pan, Yang, and Na Wang (where extension activity

of Exten- has generally been greatest) visits by extension officers to individual houses

sion were even more frequent than farmers' attendance at demonstrations. Nong Pan

Officers farmers report that the extension officer visits the village twice a month,

S while Na Wang farmers are privileged to have a resident extension officer.

Taking the 12 villages as a whole, home visits by extension officers were dis-

proportionately to households with large farm sizes. For instance, in Don
Farm Size Daeng, two of the four visited had above (village) average farm size, in Na
Influence Khoi all of the four, in Na Khoi Noi three of the six, and in Song one was of

average size and the rest very much larger. In Yang eleven of the seventeen

were above average farm size, in Kratum three of the four. But in Nong Pan

only seven of the twenty-four had above average farm size.

But more significant than the relation between home visits by extension
officers and farm size was that between home visits and Village Committee

3mmittee membership of household heads (with the exception of Na Wang). Indeed in Na

membership Khoi, Na Khoi Noi, and Song it would be easy to conclude that home visiting

influence was established exclusively for the benefit of Village Committee members.

It is fairly clear from answers that the purpose of these home visits is

principally to give advice on a particular crop. The exception was Na Wang,

and where the purposes of visits by the resident extension worker were most

frequently 'general information' and 'other purposes'. Also in Na Wang, as

can be seen from Table 14, men and women in the home were equally spoken to,

an event not seen in any other village. Na Wang is an interesting control

village if for no other reason than its extension services are already at a

level which those in the other villages can reach only after some considerable


Women extension officers

Table 15 gives responses to the question 'Do you think women would be

more interested in agricultural extension if there were women agricultural

extension officers?' and 'If "Yes", would you like there to be tambon women

agricultural extension officers?' Not all replies add up to the sample size

as a few respondents opted out of the questions. Also, some who replied 'no'

to the first question went on to register a vote in the second. What became

apparent during interviews was that the issue of using women extension

officers to make women farmers more interested in agriculture was overwhelmed

by the issue of general disenchantment with men officers and the very widely

held view that women would be better at the job. Reasons given were that the

men officers did not care enough to visit the village often, and that women

are more hardworking and conscientious and make sympathetic listeners. One

could surmise that, with the disproportionate attention extension officers

paid farmers with large farms and farmers embodying formal authority, other

farmers saw a better chance of approaching women officers. With hindsight a

more appropriate question would have been 'Which would you prefer, men or

women agricultural extension officers?' The data on Table 15 speak for them-

selves. Suffice it to say that there is an overwhelming vote, by both sexes,

to see women agricultural extension officers.

Women's membership

of village institutions

Farm Size


Med ship

Of Organi-


Membership of Farmers' Groups is of some importance in obtaining cheap

fertilizer. Table 16 shows how relatively few farmers belong to these Groups,

except in Kwang Jone, Yang, and (especially) in Nong Yod. Far fewer women are

members. Although households with above (village) average farm size are dis-

proportionately represented in Farmers' Groups, especially in the villages of

Sri Sa Ket, a significant minority had farms below the average size. The five

women members in Sri Sa Ket all had farms of size well above the average for

their villages. Only one woman respondent was found to be a member of a

Village Committee in Na Khoi and she had a farm of 200 rai. There was a

great deal of overlapping membership of Farmers' Groups and Village Commit-

tees, but even more overlapping between respondents who had been visited by

extension officers in their homes and who were members of Farmers' Groups.


Although more men than women were involved in negotiating credit and
selling rice, the weakness of this kind of information for determining persons
responsible for household financial management was made plain when it was
shown that it is women who mainly control income. Many respondents stated
that they took decisions jointly and controlled income jointly. But in the
village which produced a large surplus of rice, men appeared to be emerging as
controllers of all sources of income. In contrast where secondary cash cropp-
ing is significant, and earmarking of income for particular purposes most
prominent, women were seen to be most confirmed as the custodians of in-

This section describes decision-making within the household, who controls

cash income (and not merely the consumption budget), whether cash income is

earmarked for specific purposes, and any signs of cash flow management.

Negotiation of credit

In all but two villages men are far more important than women in negoti-

ating credit at its source. The BAAC sometimes requires land collateral, and

land (at the present time) is predominantly owned by women. There were many

reports, in detailed answers, of 'both men and women' having to present them-

selves to obtain BAAC credit, but there were also cases of men and women going

alone to negotiate this credit. The fact that the holder of the farm land

ought to be present means that in theory at least women have a veto on this

source of credit. Fertilizer on credit from Cooperatives, via the Farmers'

Groups was, in nearly all cases, negotiated by men.

Only in Na Wang, Song, and the Sri Sa Ket villages did women share in

negotiating credit from relatives. This could be because men are away on

seasonal wage employment at the time this credit is needed. Yet it is more

likely that these relatives are the wife's kin, who will in any case be aware

of her views. What was unexpected was the relatively greater involvement of

women than men in negotiating credit from moneylenders and traders than from

relatives and friends. Apart from Farmers' Group credit and credit from rela-

tives, a picture emerges of men negotiating credit in the town (which involves

a journey) and of women negotiating credit in the villages.

However, the weakness of the question 'Who negotiates credit?' as an in-

dicator of financial authority in the household was revealed later by answers

to 'Who controls cash income?'

Selling of crops

Specialization of selling particular crops, by sex of seller, is not ap-

parent from the data in Table 17, although men do most of the selling. But

women are relatively more involved in selling cash crops than rice, especially

in Na Wang and the Sri Sa Ket villages. When cash crops are dry season crops

the absence of men might partly explain this. But the main reason is the

selling of watermelons and vegetables to traders who visit each farm and the

province of women in the cultivation of these foods. The sale of livestock by

men and women depends very much on the village. A significant number of

respondents claimed that they sold crops jointly with their spouses.

Control over income

What is far more important for economic standing in the household is who

controls income and therefore, presumably, expenditure. The question was

asked 'Does the cash income remain under the control of the person who sells

the product?' It had to be assumed that if there were leakages before passing

income to another member they were negligible, since it was impossible to ob-

tain data on this. To find out which sex controls income it was necessary to

S compare the data on 'Who sells?' and 'Whether this person retains the cash in-
come'. (See Table 18). Since it has been widely assumed by writers on the

Northeast that women control household income, it was taken for granted that

when a woman sells the product she retains the income, but that whenever a

seller surrenders the income, the seller is a man. Answers to the second

question in Table 18, 'If the seller does not retain the cash income, who

keeps it?' confirms that this is widely true.

From the data it is clear that in Don Daeng men hand over income from

sales to women in all cases except for some cash crops. In Lahan, men some-

times retain income from cash crops. In Kwang Jone a minority of men who sell

rice and cash crops retain the income. In Song, Kratum, and Nong Yod, a

minority of men sell rice and retain the income. Data for Or indicate that

all cash income from men's sales of non-glutinous rice and livestock are

S passed to women.

Nong Pan looks like an unusual village in that husbands are emerging as

the household controllers. This village has some very large farms and their

agricultural surpluses are, comparatively, very large.

Control In those villages where many households report wage employment, wages are

Over very largely placed at the disposal of women. But in Nong Pan more households

Wages reported men controlling wages than women, and in Na Khoi and Na Khoi Noi, a

large minority of men are controlling wages. There is significant "joint con-

trol" (a term offered by respondents to mean there is no separate control) of

wages in Yang and these are disproportionately found amongst households with

large holdings. In Lahan, Kwang Jone, Na Wang, and Nong Pan, there is some

evidence of the same things occurring. It suggests that where farm size is

large enough to produce a financial surplus from agriculture and if men show a

greater tendency to control this cash income than on smaller farms, this prac-

tice extends to wage income as well.

A serious weakness of these data is that they do not reveal informal

means of joint control. It cannot be assumed that the woman (or man) who

holds money has exclusive control. Nevertheless, what is at stake in making

this general inquiry is whether a woman has a command over the household's

cash income which is commensurate with her responsibilities for delivering

basic needs of maintenance to her family and her other roles and responsibili-

ties. In the Northeast there is some evidence that women's control of cash

earnings is moderating on large holdings when a surplus is more likely, such

that men are emerging as household comptrollers.

Earmarking of income

The replies to the question 'Do you put aside part or all of income from

different crops for specific purposes?' were interesting. In the more self-

provisioning villages of Nakhorn Phanom there was less earmarking of farm in-

come. In Song where only 15% of households did any earmarking the explanation

may lie in the fact that the credit for tobacco growing is offered by Adams

Company, and the cost of the credit is later recuperated in the price the com-

pany pays for the crop. In Or the large wages component and very high inter-

est rates paid could explain the 54% of households who do some earmarking of

income. In the Sri Sa Ket villages and in Na Wang, where cash cropping is im-

portant, very high proportions of households earmark cash income.

The more intensive farming villages, then, do much more earmarking of in-

come. The reason of credit repayment is prominent, but this is accompanied by

almost as frequent setting aside of cash income for food. To a much lesser

extent education receives an allocation. What is of further interest is that

where there is an emphasis on allocating cash income, women are more strongly

confirmed as the custodians of income.


A shortage of rice was felt most just before the harvest, and other items
in the diet showed variation by location according to available sylvan produce
and proximity to food markets. Women (and children) are the main water col-
lectors, and this becomes very arduous towards the end of the dry season.
Frequency of cooking and breastfeeding were affected by women's rice planting
and harvesting, and a close covariation with miscarriages was observed at
these times. Most respondents wanted child care facilities, but only at
certain times of the year. Birth control is widely accepted and the pill is
the most common means. Women stated that improvements in birth control ser-
vices should include elimination of side effects and a more friendly and
respectful medical service. There was a clear association between small ideal
family size and (village average) small farm size.

In this section the satisfaction of basic needs (food, water and fuel),

as well as the roles of different household members in that satisfaction, are

discussed. Then issues of women's and children's health, and family planning,

are dealt with.


Sales of rice and purchases of paddy and rice can be made for reasons of

variety preference for eating (exchanging non-glutinous rice for glutinous

rice) or to benefit from the value of added income from buying paddy to

process and sell later as rice. Nor are net deficits in production of this

food staple a reliable indicator of poverty and poor nutrition since wages

are, in some villages, a large component of total income due to little or no

dry season agriculture. But in all villages anxiety about a shortage of rice

was felt most just before harvests, indicating that a lean period is feared.

However, the villages experience greatly differing seasonal variations in

other items of the diet. For instance, Na Khoi and Na Khoi Noi enjoy year-

round supplies of fish and bamboo shoots, and the influence of daily food

markets in the 'urban' village of Lahan is shown by only 4 households report-

ing seasonal variation in diet. For the other villages diet clearly depends

on month of the year.

Domestic water and fuel

Domestic water availability is another determinant of welfare. The in-

tensity and the nature of the problem of water collection are far from being

uniform among the villages. Sources of water for drinking and for general

domestic use are usually different. Both these factors have implications for

establishing priorities in water resource improvements.

Women and children are reported more frequently than men as being respon-

sible for water collection, except in (dry) Yang where men's and children's

involvement is greater than women's. But children appear to be more important

water collectors than women in most of the villages. For each village there

was no observable difference in the answers when water for drinking and

general use was separated. These results do not indicate the relative inten-

sity of labor involvement of the task for those involved. But they do show

that children can extensively be called on for help, and also that the sexual

division of labor in water collection is not very rigid except in the Nakhorn

Phanom villages. The most difficult time for water collection is towards the

end of the dry season.

Fuel collection is generally the province of men (except in Kwang Jone

and Kratum) but there was as much village variation in the respective roles of

men, women, and children as in the case of water collection.

The ability of women to meet the welfare needs of the family is also

affected by seasonal peaks in their farm work which come with rice planting in

June and July and harvesting in November and December. Cash crops can also

Seasonal bring seasonal work burdens. Cassava, which is widely grown in Don Daeng and

Work Lahan, is usually planted from February to April, but can be harvested at any

Stresses time. Kenaf, which is grown by many households in Lahan, Kwang Jone, and Na

of Women Wang, is planted around March, weeded in April and May, and harvested just

before rice. Women are as involved as men in these tasks and in all cases

mornings and afternoons are worked with equal frequency -- a sign of work


Maternal and infant health

Effects Table 19 gives replies to the questions 'When you were breastfeeding

During the busiest months, how did you manage breastfeeding (reduce or main-

Breast- tain it)?' 'Have you ever had to terminate breastfeeding before the suitable

feeding time?' and "In the busiest months of the year, do you cook less frequently?'

The most marked incidences of reported reduced or prematurely terminated

breastfeeding are in Don Daeng, Lahan, Kwang Jone, Na Wang, Nong Pan, Kratum,

and Or. Seasonality in frequency of cooking has similarities to seasonality

in reduced breastfeeding.

The health of the very young was reported to be affected by three other

things: the dirty water in the dry season, the arrival of fruits which cause

stomach complaints in April and May, and changeable weather in the winter

months of November and December.

In order to examine the relative importance of all factors affecting

health and welfare, data on monthly variations in miscarriages, infants' sick-

ness, and deaths of the under-fives are shown in Table 20.

It is impossible to know how many of the reported miscarriages were in-

duced abortions. But spontaneous and induced abortions may be subject to the

same seasonal factors. The frequencies of miscarriages in Don Daeng and Song

are exceptional. These two villages also share a seasonal peak of miscar-

riages in the dry months of February and March. In Don Daeng men's involve-

ment in water collection is the least of all the villages. Also cassava is

planted in February and March and tobacco cultivated between January and

April. In Song tobacco is cultivated between January and April. Both vil-

lages have relatively few resident children 18 years and over to assist in

work requirements. But miscarriages are also more frequent in the wet season

rice planting in these two villages than in the others. The data for all vil-

lages show no evidence that food shortages in the 'lean months' before the

rice harvest affect the miscarriage rate, but a peak in women's energy expen-

diture (during the harvest) does come at the end of the lean months. The

lesser peak in June and July reflects women's work in planting rice. Carrying

water or pushing trolleys laden with water cans in the dry season is clearly a

contributory factor in some villages.

Women's harvesting work, reduced or terminated breastfeeding, less fre-

quent cooking, and change of weather are enough to explain the November and

December peaks in child deaths and infant sickness. The peak in child deaths

in most villages in June and July must be put down to the second peak agricul-

tural work period of planting. But in Don Daeng the seasonal peak in mortali-

ty of the under-fives is in April, one month after the incidence of infants'


ality of


ri ages,



and Mor-


Child care


4a *

sickness rises sharply. In Don Daeng, Kwang Jone, and Yang sickness breaks

out as early as March. It is revealing that these villages are probably the

driest of all in the dry season, and so water collection is most difficult.

The arrival of fruits with the rains was reported by women to be the cause of

the rise in infant sickness in all villages in April and May.

There are implications of these data for selective medical services and

extension advice. But not much can be achieved unless women are relieved of

seasonal work stress. Respondents were asked whether they desired village

child care facilities, and whether these should be provided year-round or only

in certain months. A clear majority wanted to see these facilities estab-

lished, but only for the months of most activity in rice cultivation. In Na

Wang, Kratum, and Nong Yod, however, villagers expressed a desire for year-

round child care facilities. These villages have more intensive year-round

cultivation of crops.

The issue of child care facilities is a good example of the advantages of

a farming systems approach to development over the usual integrated develop-

ment program which often designs a social component and home economics exten-

sion divorced from the felt priorities of the clientele. This study shows

that the paramount purpose of a child care center should be to care for the

very young while their mothers are unavoidably working. Home economics and

nutrition advice would not be the main purpose of child care.

Family Planning

Birth control practice in Thailand has to be seen in the light of an

active promotion program. However, villagers were very clear that many chil-

dren meant lack of land inheritance and migration. If there is a single

factor that relates to the differences in villages' acceptance of birth con-

Strol (as shown in Table 21) it is distance from an all-weather road, which for

villages without a health center means accessibility to one elsewhere. Actual

rates of birth control usage amongst fertile women must be higher than those

in the table because many respondents were either widows or were beyond the

child-bearing age. For instance, the sample in Na Khoi included 7 women

household heads or women over 42 years of age, in Na Khoi Noi 11, in Nong Pan

19, in Yang 8, and in Kratum 11.

As expected the pill is the most common means of birth control. The

Birth injection was important in almost half the villages. On the other hand, 33%

Control of all households in Nong Pan and 19% in Yang had adopted sterilization. In

Methods both these villages little else was used. The diaphragm and the condom were

Used not reported to be used anywhere. There is nothing in the responses to

'reported first source of information' or 'who was approached to acquire

detailed information about birth control', which could explain high village

incidences of sterilization. Where they were greatest the great majority of

households had talked with the medical extension officer. However, many

respondents in the well-organized village of Na Wang had talked with the medi-

cal extension officer too, and there the pill was overwhelmingly the favored

method. Indeed, unless it is known which contraceptives were promoted in each

village, patterns of choice cannot be explained; nor can the adoption rates be

related to socio-economic influences without knowing the intensity of local

family planning services.

First Respondents were asked how they would order their preferences of differ-

"eference ent contraceptives on the basis of what they had heard about them. Table 22

is arranged to show how frequently 5 different methods were voted as first,

second, third, and fourth choices. Not all respondents were able to complete
the list of preferences.

Over all 12 villages, of those who replied, 132 chose the pill, 106

sterilization, 60 the injection, and 50 the IUD as their first preference.

When first and second preferences were combined the injection moved up to

second choice behind the popular pill, and the IUD fell further behind steril-

ization to fourth place. But in three villages, sterilization was seen as the

most preferred of all, and in one the injection tied with the pill for second

place. The IUD was the most preferred in two villages.

Sterilization is not, of course, to be regarded as a birth regulator or

birth spacer, and therefore not a close substitute for other birth control

methods. But the popularity of sterilization is an indication of people's

seriousness in terminating fertility. Also, it can be seen as a measure of

the expressed dissatisfaction with the side effects of contraceptive drugs.

At the present time it is mainly women who are being sterilized.

When women respondents and wives of male respondents were asked if they

had ever stopped using contraceptives, and if so, why (multiple answers being

allowed), apart from age and desiring more children, the main reasons were

backache, nausea, and bleeding. Later in interviews when respondents were

asked how birth control services could be improved, one of the most frequent

replies concerned preventing nausea, dizziness, getting fat, and freckles on

the face. The unpopularity of the IUD is no surprise and matches experience

in most other countries.

What is remarkable is how many people (both men and women) were able to

give full answers to the question on preferences. There can be few poor rural

areas in the world where such a complete response could be given.

Table 23 shows that only in Na Khoi Noi (a village in which the enumera-
tors observed a sense of isolation) ias the radio an important source of first

information on birth control. In two other villages it was approximately as

important as relatives and friends combined. Medical stations were, overall,

the most significant first source of information, especially where medical

extension officers were most active as in Nong Pan and Na Wang. There is some

evidence of a movement to progressive expertise: from friends and relatives to

the medical stations; or, starting with the medical station, to the medical

extension officer. There can be no doubt that the villagers themselves are

aware of the importance of a medical station. Replies to the question 'How

would you like to see birth control services improved?' were focused most fre-

quently on the theme of the inconvenience of travel, and that health officers

should visit villages more often. A few hopefully suggested a constant supply

of free pills. But however enthusiastically women in the Northeast have

accepted birth control, they want it delivered on what the women called

"friendly and respectful" terms. The second most common suggestion for

improvement was that health officers should be more friendly, have a better

relationship with people, and give more information on methods. Indeed, the

widespread personal unpopularity of medical officers of all kinds caused the

student enumerators to be taken aback.

Table 24 gives people's ideas on the suitable number of children and on

the possible effect of migration of youth on family size. Moving across the

table, from Don Daeng to Song, the modal suitable number of children was 4

(except in Na Wang where there appears to be some uncertainty), but with a

sharp falling off of frequencies after 4 children, the mean is much closer to

3 1/2. There is a clear association with farm size and with the lack of

Source of


tion and








Size and



oMt gra-


further land available for any cultivation. Only in Nong Pan and Na Wang did

the majority of respondents reply in the negative to the question, 'Do you

think that migration of youth effects ideas on small or large family size?'

But detailed answers to the question showed that it was understood in two

ways: the effect on rural family size and on the people who had migrated to

the cities. The most frequent answer was that it leads to smaller (farm)

family size because it has made people aware that they cannot give land to all

their children (or all daughters). But for those who thought of the effect on

the migrant's family size there was a clear recognition that there was nobody

at home to look after the children when both parents had to earn money: the

conflict between urban employment and child care led to small family size.

The majority of children who remit money have no say in how the money is
spent. This was most pronounced in villages where earmarking of all income is
greatest. Parents expressed a preference for migrant daughters rather than
sons to return to farm the land, but there was some evidence that female
descent of land is no longer strongly favored in all villages.

Migration of children to towns and cities has three effects: it reduces

(and can almost stop) the subdivision of farms1, it leads to remittances to

parents which supports the viability of the farm, and it reduces the adult

labor force on the farm. A growing proportion are young women who would

normally stand to inherit land.

What is most significant is that it is in villages with smaller farm

sizes that daughters remitting money outnumber sons (except in Kwang Jone

where the ratio was 19:20). The message is fairly clear: when land scarcity

becomes serious daughters migrate as well as sons. Since sons tend to leave

for reasons other than land shortage it can also be surmised that daughters

from these land-scarce villages are more faithful in remitting money. Tradi-

tionally sons have migrated to visit other parts of the country and to fend

for themselves before returning home to marry and settle down. Migration is

more recent for daughters and female descent of land, up until now at any

rate, must give daughters greater attachment to the family land. But do chil-

dren who make remittances retain a standing in the family and do parents ex-

pect daughters to continue to inherit the land?

The replies to the question 'If your children send you money do they have

a voice in how the money is spent?' showed a majority of negative answers in

all villages except Nong Pan, Na Khoi, and Na Khoi Noi. This majority was

greatest amongst the villages where average farm size was smallest. It was

also just in these villages that earmarking by householders of all cash income

Swas seen to be most needed. The question was then asked 'Were you to have

sons or daughters working in towns would you want them to return one day to

farm your land?' It is difficult to explain why it was just in those villages

with small farm size (plus Na Khoi and Na Khoi Noi) that almost all respon-

dents claimed they expected their daughters to farm the land later. It may be

a case of wishful thinking. In general far fewer households wanted their sons

to return than their daughters.

Changes Although parents expressed a preference for migrant daughters to return,

in Land the evidence of dramatic changes in traditional inheritance practices suggests

Inheri- parents are having to face a new reality. Respondents were asked 'Which of

tance your children do you wish to inherit the land?' There was some ambiguity in

Patterns the question for 'wishing' could be interpreted as 'expecting' or 'believing'.

S Nevertheless there is no reason to believe, from the replies, that female

descent of land is still strongly favored in all villages. Bilateral inheri-

tance seems to have arrived. Only in Don Daeng, Kwang Jone, Nong Pan, Kratum,

and Nong Yod was daughters' inheritance clearly preferred, and by a wide

margin in the vegetable-growing villages of Kratum and Nong Yod.

The degree of daughter preference in land inheritance shows covariation

with the intensity of cash cropping in Nakhorn Phanom and Sri Sa Ket. In view

of the deleterious effect of cash cropping on women's position in other coun-

tries this is unusual. The explanation must be that cash cropping in the

Northeast is principally in the dry season and undertaken on small plots.

Seasonal and casual migratory employment in the dry season is mostly taken by

men. The relation with cash cropping breaks down in the Chaiyaphum and Roi Et

villages. A more likely explanation is the low frequency of households in

some of the villages reporting residence of daughters over the age of 18

years. (See Table 2). The absence of adult daughters relative to adult sons

could well be a cause (but perhaps also an effect) of changed inheritance

norms. But in 'urban' Lahan, for instance, it was stated most bluntly that

land is now given to all children, not only to daughters.

The few landless households in the total sample distinctly favor daughter

inheritance of any assets. Only in Don Daeng did one of the three landless

households state that the son would inherit the house.

If there is a move towards bilateral inheritance this may lead to farms

becoming smaller more rapidly. Two opposing explanations of the decline in

female descent of land (and matrilocality) were heard during this investiga-

tion. The first, 'daughter scarcity', rests on smaller family size and migra-

tion of daughters. It may be that there is no daughter living in the village

at the time when the parents wish to retire from active farming, and with the

stipulation that the child which cares for parents in old age receives a

greater inheritance, parents are obliged to settle the land on a son or on a

son and daughter. The intention of a migrant daughter to return some time

after this critical date for parents is not good enough.

The second, the 'land scarcity' explanation, argues that sons are finding

that their wives are not inheriting enough land and thus no longer are pre-

pared to follow the tradition of waiving their own rights to land inheritance.

Of course this is self-defeating in aggregate terms because the wife's

brothers may decide not to waive their rights either. The result must be

fragmentation of farms, and holdings distributed between two (and in later

generations several) villages.

Whatever the true explanation a move to bilateral inheritance must have a

negative effect on the status of women in general, and on young widows and

deserted mothers in particular. Widows with grown sons should remain secure

if the cultural norm of caring for both aged parents (who at present appear to

be respected as joint controllers of a holding) is maintained. The pace of

change in inheritance practices will be influenced by the relative earnings

prospects of young men and women in the cities.

1/ Leedom Lefferts, 'Change and Population in a Northeast Thai Village', in

Population and Development in Southeast Asia, J.F. Kantner and L.

McCafferty, (eds.) Lexington, Mass. Heath and Co., 1975, p. 177).




Some re-phrasing of the stated objectives has been made to make them more

relevant to the findings.

To assist farmers to adopt practices and crop-mixes suitable to local

conditions and to overcome risk due to variable rainfall by developing a suit-

able package of technologies and resources.

Since extension and credit assistance is dealt with under the second ob-

jective here, we look at other constraints and problems, and farmers' percep-

tions of risk.

The data on inter-household sharing of resources did not reveal anything

which suggests direct obstacles to adopting innovations. Cooperation is be-

tween close kin, mostly between parents and married children. Parents will

still be legal holders of the land and often important sources of finance

while the children are the active farmers. Sibling cooperation is beneficial

to both households in that it increases the 'family land and labor force,' and

therefore allows more flexibility in deployment of these resources. But pro-

ject staff must be aware that more mobile young men who attend meetings will

be reporting back to elderly parents-in-law and wives who are the landholders.

Moreover there are secondary crops which women tend to be more involved with

than men, and if their potential is to be realized it is important that women

are reached directly with technical and marketing information. Women heads of

household will mostly be elderly widows, presiding over multigeneration house-

holds. The few young widows or deserted mothers are likely to be pooling re-

sources with a related household, and therefore can call on the services of a

male relative for purposes of representation. The close life-long relation-

ship between sisters would inhibit any tendency by men to exploit young

widowed sisters-in-law while the resource pooling arrangements mean that it is

in the interests of all that total resources are utilized in the most profit-

able way. Therefore the problem of reaching women-headed farms with agricul-

tural services should not be a serious issue. But a young widow or deserted

mother who is not pooling resources would face considerable difficulties and

deserves special attention.

There is no evidence that indicates that kin relations might be jealous-

ly guarded against institutional encroachment as was hypothesized in the

Analytical Framework. On the contrary it was found that where institutional

credit was virtually absent, loans from 'relatives and friends' could carry

high interest rates, so that a greater presence of formal credit institutions

would be welcomed. Moreover, complaints against extension officers centered

on their inaccessibility and the inappropriateness of their information rather

than their interference. Resource pooling arrangements between households,

especially when one suffers some handicap, are a means of reducing risk. In

so far as these arrangements are between close kin, this aspect of kin rela-

tions can be seen as encouragement to innovation.

In all the villages studied rice cultivation stretches both male and

female household labor in certain months. The easy substitution of male and

female labor indicates that the sexual division of labor does not present a

constraint on the effective utilization of household labor. The fact that

both men and women respondents overwhelmingly stated that men had assumed most

of the greater farm work of recent years, caused by migration of children and

new secondary crop cultivation, is evidence of the adaptability of the sexual

division of labor in the face of constraints on women's time.

In spite of this flexible division of labor it is apparent that a severe

constraint of female labor availability exists at several times of the year

because of their additional domestic work. One source of evidence is the firm

statement by both men and women that concentrating first on rice self-suffi-

ciency is not a goal of young families because rice cultivation imposes a

special problem for young mothers. More evidence is provided by the monthly

data on miscarriages and infant mortality. Reduction or termination of

breastfeeding occurs at peak labor demand periods. Most respondents wanted to

see village child care facilities at certain times of the year at least.

At other times of the year women share in upland cash crop cultivation,

in year-round intensive vegetable and watermelon growing; and, where water

resources do not permit this, they are active in weaving and/or silkworm-rais-

ing. A project social background paper implied that women's labor was under-

utilized and recommended more productive activities. It remains an open ques-

tion how underutilized women's labor is in the dry season. It may well be

more a matter of low productivity work and, in the case of home industries,

very low returns to labor because of weak markets. If this is true then pro-

ject interventions need to be directed towards raising productivity or encour-

aging women to move into other activities. The underutilization of male labor

in the dry season is likely to be greater. Many more men than women undertook

migratory wage employment, but the data indicated that most men remain at

home. Apart from sharing with women the work on tobacco and vegetable plots,

it is not clear what else they do at this time of year. Moreover, male re-

spondents were clear that they would rather stay at home if they could find

something to do in the village or on their farms during the dry season.

Given all this plus the flexible division of farm labor it might be wise

not to view promoting secondary agriculture in the dry season in terms of

women's vegetable-growing or livestock care. In designing technological pack-

ages, what needs to be borne in mind is not so much avoiding burdens resulting

from sex-typed agricultural tasks but avoiding sharp seasonal demand peaks

which place additional burdens on women since they are already under seasonal


Villagers' readiness to give up wage employment, if necessary, for adop-

tion of new farming practices may be a reflection of their desire to stay

together at home and the preference of men for farming over migratory employ-

ment. But there were many respondents who believed that wage employment was

more risky than farming. Whether this is actually true or refers to the

effort required to find employment is difficult to assess. If it is true,

further investigation is necessary to find out if wage employment is taken

because it is a cheaper way of raising working capital for farming than

resorting to the credit market (that is, staying at home has an opportunity

cost), or because water resources simply do not permit sufficient agriculture

to justify the men's presence during several months. The results of such an

investigation are likely to vary with locality. But finding out whether wage

employment occurs as a result of technical impossibilities of farming or

because of inadequate credit services is part of a farming systems approach.

Respondents stated that cash crop production provided more security than rice

production, no doubt because rainfall is not relied upon so heavily. But

there may be other reasons.

The main expressed obstacle to adoption of new crops or better cultiva-

tion methods lay in uncertainty about prices and markets, factors beyond the

control of farmers. There was little lack of confidence in their own ability

to marshall their own labor resources. Farmers are ready to move into further

commercialization of agricultural production if they see this as improving the

base to their total income. They are not psychologically tied to maintaining

subsistence (or more accurately, self-provisioning) production.

Women play an active role in the financial management of the household.

All incomes are still mainly placed in their traditional custody which, al-

though not to be interpreted as exclusive control, provides for a rational

relationship between income and the satisfaction of basic consumption needs.

The returns to effort are felt by individual household members through this

satisfaction. But as the principal current holders of land women also have

every incentive to see any surplus invested in improving farming and to wel-

come external assistance. There was nothing in the findings to suggest they

were more 'conservative' than men. Their slight apprehension about extra farm

work is well founded, given seasonal stresses, but it has nothing to do with

aversion to risk-taking. Therefore the comparatively high status of North-

eastern women cannot be regarded as a constraint on change. In fact, since

the flexible division of labor, the corporate producing and spending nature of

the household, and the pooling of resources between households very likely

have something to do with female descent of land and matrilocal marriage, the

high status of women can be seen as a positive factor in successful adoption

of improved cropping patterns and methods.

To provide adequate credit and extension services to farmers.

It is not possible to measure the problem of the credit constraint but

this study points to it being far more serious than any labor constraint in

terms of understanding the gap between actual and potential production as dis-

cussed in the project background paper. One could go further: for most of

these villages, unless there is a real overhaul of the operation of institu-

tional credit sources, raising the level of potential production through tech-

nological packages need not be attempted.

There are both village and household category variations in the use of

the cheaper institutional credit. Some villages may be entirely (as in the

case of Or) or almost by-passed by these credit facilities. When villages

with poor physical endowments use little institutional credit but a great deal

of free market credit the question must arise whether official institutions

have favored the better endowed villages in the past. But cooperative credit

via the various Farmers' Groups and BAAC credit on collateral based on fellow

farmers' co-signatures implies a degree of village social cohesion and organi-

zation, and it is possible that there is some relation between poor environ-

ment (high risk) and lack of cohesion and organization. The implication of

low village-level utilization of institutional credit for the project is that

it is a proper function of a farming systems approach to investigate the

reasons and to direct extension services to work on appropriate means of a

resolution of the problem. Moreover, there is not always a relationship be-

tween obtaining institutional credit for rice and cash crops. This may be due

to varying relative profitabilities of applying fertilizer to rice and cash

crops by locality endowments. But it may also be due to organizational or in-

stitutional criteria for granting credit. Investigation of this is also a

proper function of a farming systems approach. Low utilization of institu-

tional credit is one indicator that should be used for identifying villages to

receive initial interventions.

To a great extent the use of Cooperative credit, distributed through

Farmers' Groups, must depend on leading figures in the village and their moti-

vation to mobilize as many farmers (including small farmers who may be in debt

to them) as possible. There was evidence that membership of the different

village organizations was influenced by large size of farm holding. But

farmers approaching the BAAC are not generally subject to intra-village socio-

political factors since they go individually or as members of a joint-liabili-

ty group to the BAAC offices in town. The disadvantage of BAAC credit is that

farmers must fetch fertilizer from outside the village and in the past, at

least, BAAC loans have been smaller and shorter-term than Cooperative credit.

The BAAC is currently overhauling its credit policies and is also planning

visits to villages. It has found that its clients' repayment record is three

to four times as good as Cooperatives' clients' repayment record and is now

planning to concentrate on small-scale individual farmers by channeling credit

to joint-liability groups of farmers, possibly on a group revolving fund

basis. It might be worthwhile investigating the relative advantages and dis-

advantages of allocating project personnel resources to promoting one or other

of these sources of credit. Arranging a system of village 'drops' of fertil-

izer might be a further consideration.

The importance of improving supplies of institutional credit to promoting

farming improvements in a risky environment, where household labor has to be

deployed carefully, can be shown by a simple calculation. A small farming

household with 10 rai of rice applies one bag of fertilizer (at the price of

B.250) per rai. Total fertilizer cost is then B.2,500. Let us suppose that

the difference between institutional and free market credit is 50%. The addi-

tional cost of the free market credit amounts to B.1,250. The household might

earn this by sending an adult male to wage employment. If the daily wage rate

(generously, net of maintenance costs away from home) is B.20, a man must work

62 days, or about 10 weeks. The cost of failing to extend institutional

credit to this household is the equivalent of an adult male working member

being absent for 10 weeks. If improved cropping patterns or methods are to be

introduced without supplying cheap credit, households might be faced with

supplying either the required finance or the required additional labor, but

they cannot do both.

There are two kinds of changes in extension services that are implied in

a farming systems approach to an agricultural promotion project. The first is

to prepare the extension services for offering new technical information in

the course of its normal duties and to improve access of small farmers to the

services. The second, which is discussed under the third objective, is to

utilize the extension services for listening to the farmers and executing a

feedback system to project staff on the results of on-farm trials. The pro-

ject staff itself will be too small to cover all these functions.

At present extension services are weak and highly variable between vil-

lages and households. This field investigation revealed a situation of infre-

quent, fleeting visits, and of selective attention to households with larger

holdings or with members sitting on village committees. Improvement here lies

in the more efficient and democratic deployment of extension resources, and in

terms of the project, some affirmative action to reach small-scale farming

households. Part of greater efficiency must be to reach women as well as men

so that there can be fully informed discussion of possibilities within the

household. How the limited extension resources are to be spread over villages

in the NERAD area will be bound up with the choice of target villages and

target groups of households. Remarks made by respondents during interviews

suggest that another serious problem is the attitude and ignorance of exten-

sion officers. This is a common problem of extension services but becomes

more significant when a farming systems approach is used in agricultural


There is no doubt that the farmers want to see women extension officers.

But some young women might hesitate to travel through rural areas alone or

residing in a village. For similar reasons the women students who did the

enumeration for this study were paired. As things turned out, apart from

initial apprehension, they could have done the work singly. If women, after

knowing what the job entails, still want to accept it they should be re-

cruited. Given the responses of the farmers to this question it is important

to test the possible greater efficacy of women extension officers.

To establish a research and demonstration program responsive to farmers'

needs thereby increasing both farmers' and extension officers' awareness of

economic alternatives.

In this study it was seen that neighboring villages, with similar envi-

ronmental endowments, could have very different levels of production and in-

come. Thus a poor environment is only one determinant of cropping pattern and

methods. The general ambiance of motivation and organization emerged as an

important determinant of economic activity. Why this is so is a proper con-

cern of a farming systems approach. Rivalries between villages over tambon or

provincial resources, differences in the quality of village leadership, intra-

village inequalities and politics, and smallness of a village can all be

indicators, together with weak credit sources, of villages which need to be

targeted with appropriate countervailing attention. If a sense of isolation

or disaffection prevails, women, with much of their time bound up within the

house, could feel it more intensely. Because of their strong economic author-

ity it is important that they are equally incorporated in efforts to make

farmers more aware of new possibilities and of access to enabling resources.

Farmers are agriculturalists, managers, marketers, and financiers. The

intention of a farming systems approach is to make project staff, collective-

ly, the same. But the integrated expertise of the farmers can only be appre-

ciated by listening to them, and by developing a genuine two-way exchange of

information and ideas. This places a heavy burden on extension officers for

they constitute the 'go-betweens'. It is imperative that they be enthused

with a new method of extension activity. In another Asian country, Indonesia,

some carefully trained extension officers found that the constraints on

improved farming included the irregular supply of inputs, and the lack of

credit.1 They acted to mobilize farmers into groups, to inform them about

what was available, and to ensure that inputs and credit were in place. The

results, though short-lived because of political changes, were spectacular.

For the first time the farmers saw extension officers as their allies, and

conditions for adopting improved rice cultivation methods were more favor-


On-farm trials and demonstrations will lead to discussions with farmers

about technical possibilities. But a systems approach must include calcula-

tions on the profitability of new methods or crops, and these calculations in-

evitably concern different interest rates. Complaints by farmers of unprofit-

ability using certain credit sources is a vital ingredient of feedback infor-

mation to project staff. Any additional labor requirements need to be

thoroughly examined too. When they would occur, especially in relation to

women's seasonal stresses and the deployment of some household labor in migra-

tory wage employment to raise working capital, they must be seen as part of

profitability and benefit calculations.

Such a farming systems approach presents extension officers with an

intellectual challenge. The value of their jobs in their own eyes would be

enhanced if this were made clear to them. Regular workshops should encourage

them to describe what they have learned and to give voice to criticisms of

their current roles.

A visit by project staff and some extension officers to the control vil-

lage of Na Wang could be useful. The resident extension officer there is

likely to be a source of useful ideas on methods of reaching and organizing

farmers. His visits to houses (talking as much to women as to men) were not

to give advice on a particular crop so much as to discuss general issues.

What did the farmers want to discuss with him? Where did the discussions

lead? Did he organize the farmers, or did he do or say something which led

them to organize themselves?

The project's field staff and the normal extension services have limited

resources. Choices on deployment have to be made. If a village or handi-

capped group of households is to be targeted because it is very poor or cur-

rently ill-organized and poorly motivated the best extension officers avail-

able should be utilized. Putting weak extension resources on the more intrac-

table problems is a misallocation of resources, for the results will be poor.

To improve the year-round supply of supplemental water for vegetable-

growing and domestic usage.

The use made of water resources in the dry season on small plots for in-

tensive vegetable and watermelon growing by farmers, especially women, is

indicative of the economic possibilities of small-scale water development. In

the past the Northeast Region has been seen as a source of upland export cash

crops, but road development and urbanization have created new internal

markets. This small-scale intensive agriculture is probably less risky than

rice production and therefore can serve as something of a gilt-edged invest-

ment to underwrite riskier investment in rice improvements. Farmers are ex-

perienced in developing a production portfolio which combines low risk, small

profit crops with high risk but sometimes large profit crops. In this risky

rainfed area encouraging such a portfolio is an obvious strategy. The implic-

ation for the project is that the total gain from small-scale supplemental

water development is not only the direct income from the crops which use the

water but also helping to underwrite periodic losses on crops which do not use


Problems of obtaining domestic water in the dry season are very serious

in some villages. Apart from the strong circumstantial evidence of a link

with a sharp increase in miscarriages and ill-health towards the end of the

dry season, it can reasonably be asked whether there would be more cash crop-

ping were women's strength and time not so overtaxed. This constraint may

well be unrelated to poor organization and motivation, and therefore an issue

which requires singular intervention in selected villages to release more

labor resources.

1/ Palmer, I. 1977. The New Rice in Indonesia, UNRISD, Geneva.



On the basis of.'this analytical study some sub-objectives to the NERAD

project's stated objectives might be offered. These are:

1. To design farming improvements such that seasonal labor peaks are not


2. To include in the farming systems approach a careful monitoring of the

(wage employment) opportunity cost of greater household farm labor

requirements between rice planting and harvesting and in the dry


3. To improve access to the cheaper formal institutional credit, particu-

larly for smaller, poorer farmers, by means which should include the

democratization of Farmers' Groups, and for villages which have so far

been comparatively neglected.

4. To give women more equal access with men to agricultural extension


5. To field more women agricultural extension officers.

6. To concentrate the best agricultural extension services on villages

deemed most difficult by virtue of their isolation, past neglect, or

severe drought problems.

7. To give particular attention to supplemental water resources in vil-

lages which have acute problems of water collection for drinking and

other domestic problems in the dry season.

8. To establish daycare facilities for children, at least during rice

planting and harvesting periods.

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