Posted 12 August 2015
A postgraduate research student at Harper Adams University is hoping to help small-scale rice farmers in Thailand to improve their marketing strategies by identifying the factors that affect them the most.
Nithicha Thamthanakoon began working towards her PhD in September last year and recently visited three regions of Thailand to conduct in-depth interviews with rice farmers.
By analysing this data, she hopes to identify the main reasons behind market channel selection and whether this has changed since the Thai government ended its Rice Pledging Scheme (RPS) last year.
33-year-old Nithicha, who was born and raised in Thailand, said: “Thailand is one of the world's leading producers and exporters of rice, and it is a very important crop both socially and economically for Thai people.
“But it has become apparent that farmers perhaps don’t think that much about the marketing of this valuable crop, despite agricultural products being the main source of income for the majority of Thai people.
“Since the end of the RPS, small-scale rice farmers are faced with a more competitive market environment and need to take more proactive decisions when it comes to choosing their market.
“So I hope to find out which factors influence their decisions the most and the reasoning behind it all, to address this current gap in research and understanding.”
As well as interviewing more than 30 farmers face-to-face earlier this year, Nithicha also hopes to conduct a large scale survey at a later stage.
Nithicha, whose mum was a rice farmer, added: “I chose to research this subject as I want my work to benefit farmers in my home country by making a step towards improving current practices.
“Working towards my PhD in the UK has enabled me to focus solely on my studies as well as access a wide range of expertise at Harper Adams, including my Director of Studies, Dr Iona Huang and supervisors Professor Shane Ward and Dr Jane Eastham.
“This expertise gives a new perspective on my research topic and is enabling me to develop and learn whilst completing my research.”