Smallholder Participation in Modernising Agri-Food Value Chains in Thailand: The Role of Traditional Markets

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The strategic focus of food retailers on stringent product requirements and the logistical management of fresh produce from farm to shelf have often been seen as raising barriers for smallholders, thus leading to the exclusion of resource-constrained farmers. Our study contributes to research on the inclusion of smallholders in modern agri-food value chains and on the integration of their perspectives in studies of dynamics in value chains through a combined qualitative and quantitative exploration of vegetable-producing smallholders in northern Thailand. We find that smallholders are not excluded from Thailand’s modern agri-food value chains, regardless of their household assets, but are instead integrated through traditional structures. To some extent, they do have room for manoeuvre in selecting different marketing channels and some bargaining power. Traditional markets can be very important for linking smallholders to modern agri-food value chains, but limited knowledge exchange, structural challenges in gaining access to certification and product differentiation all reduce the possibilities for upgrading. We emphasise the importance of viewing smallholders as active navigators within value chains and of understanding their motivations in making use of different sales channels in order to understand the complexities of their realities while not overlooking the power structures within value chains.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe European Journal of Development Research
Pages (from-to)1419–1439
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 347412919