| Agricultural Expansion and Pioneer Settlements in the Humid Tropics (1988) |
|4. The forest colonization process: case studies of two communities in north-east and south-east Thailand|
|Case study 1: history of settlement and in-migration|
Settlers and occupation groups
The population in the study area of Km 79 may be classified into two groups. the maize farmers and the traders. The former are mainly from outside Tambon Wang Nam Khiew and may be classified further into three categories according to their socio-economic background: (a) permanent residents; (b) seasonal residents; and (c) seasonal wage labourers
Permanent residents are those who have registered with the kamnan, the subdistrict head. These residents have come from maize-growing areas seeking new and fertile land since their previous fields have become impoverished or suffered drought and pest damage. The size of their holdings varies from 50 to 200 rai (8-32 ha) per family. Such farmers are more dependent on the maize traders for food supplies compared to seasonal residents, who are wet-rice farmers.
Seasonal residents are farmers from wet-rice areas both within Khorat and from other provinces of the north-east. They are engaged in planting maize for cash income as a supplement to wet rice since the cropping pattterns of both are complementary. There are two types of seasonal farmers: those who own their maize fields and those who rent them (seasonal tenants). The seasonal tenants are small wet-rice farmers from poorer areas in the north-east. They generally rent small plots, either from permanent residents or from seasonal residents with their own land. The amount of land rented depends on how much family labour is available. They come to this area irregularly, depending on the price of maize and the success of the wet-rice crop; if the crop is poor, more seasonal tenants come.
Seasonal wage labourers are mainly young men who are wet-rice farmers from poor areas in the north-east. They come in great numbers during the maize planting season (April-June) and harvesting season (October-December), when heavy labour inputs are required. They earned about 18-20 baht (U.S. $0.70) per day at the time of study (1979), with board and lodging provided by the employer.
Crop traders or middlemen, locally known as tao Kae, form another occupational group involved in the maize trade and supporting cultivation. They not only buy maize from farmers but provide loans and some other necessary goods, especially rice during the six to eight months prior to harvest. There are four large-scale traders at the Km 79 market who have at least 500,000 baht (U.S. $19,230) in circulation for maize purchase each crop year to be sold to exporters in Bangkok through an organizer caller a yong. The small-scale traders or crop brokers are shopkeepers at the Km 79 market, selling groceries and miscellaneous goods to farmers on credit. The latter have to repay in maize, plus interest of 5 per cent per month. These small-scale traders generally deal with seasonal farmers and tenants of small holdings.