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Marketing channel choice by Thai rice farmers is focus for PhD research

Posted 31 January

"I wanted to look at what marketing channels rice farmers in Thailand are now using post RPS and the factors affecting those choices. Understanding the importance of more tangible behavioural predictors will have substantial implications to policy makers and marketing channel providers as well as to farmers.”

A PhD project at Harper Adams University has looked into the factors that affect Thai rice farmers’ market channel selection.

Rice production is an integral part of Thailand’s industry and countryside; its production accounts for nearly a quarter of the country’s total land use and is one of the world’s largest rice exporters.

PhD researcher Nithicha Thamthanakoon is from the central province of Suphan Buri in Thailand and comes from a community where the majority of the population work as rice farmers, including her mother.

She said: “Between 2011 and 2014, there was the Rice Pledging Scheme (RPS) in Thailand. This gave Thai farmers the opportunity to pledge and then provide an unlimited supply of rice directly to the government at a higher price than the market selling price.” The scheme was terminated in 2014 and rice farmers have been facing a more competitive market environment since.

“I wanted to look at what marketing channels rice farmers in Thailand are now using post RPS,” added Nithicha, “and the factors affecting those choices. Understanding the importance of more tangible behavioural predictors will have substantial implications to policy makers and marketing channel providers as well as to farmers.”

Nithicha’s research involved 33 in-depth interviews and a questionnaire survey with 661 responses from rice farmers in three main rice production regions in Thailand. The results showed that Thai rice farmers mainly rely on three main channels: miller, local collector, and agricultural cooperative to sell their rice. Three other channels also used by farmers were: central paddy market, individual direct selling and group direct selling.

The research uses the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), a well-recognised theoretical framework that offers considerable insight into the decision making process and Partial Least Square Structural Equation Modelling for her survey data analysis.

Nithicha said: “The model that I’ve created can show what affects channel factor choice. Each channel develops its own strengths. It’s not always a straight line and I believe this is due to human behaviour being complicated.

“This is the first study to date that offers some important insights into the decision-making processes of Thai rice farmers. I believe it’ll help farmers understand their decision making process better, inform marketing channels and government policy makers.

“Rice farming is an important part of my life as I grew-up in a rice farming community; my mother is a rice farmer, as are our neighbours. I’m pleased that I’ve been able to work on this research project on a topic that’s so important to me.

“I’d like to thank Dr Iona-Yuelu Huang for being a great director of studies and for her guidance and advice on both academic and personal matters. I’d also like to thank my supervisors; Dr Jane Eastham and Professor Shane Ward. We made an excellent team.

“I’m grateful to the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Faculty of Economics at Kasetsart University in Thailand for my PhD funding.

“On an individual basis, it has been a wonderful and enjoyable experience studying at Harper Adams. Thank you to the English Language Support and Student Services team. Finally, my deepest gratitude goes to my family for their encouragement, caring support and patience throughout this doctoral journey.”

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