PhD defence: Pin Pravalprukskul

Pin Pravalprukskul defends her thesis,

Maize in the forest
Smallholder crop boom dynamics and the politics of upland resource management in Thailand

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Associate professor Thilde Bech Bruun, IGN
Professor Peter Messerli, Universität Bern – Switzerland

Assessment Committee:
Professor Jonathan Rigg, University of Bristol – UK
Associate professor Kanokwan Manorom, Ubon Ratchathani University – Thailand
Associate professor Marianne Nylandsted Larsen (chair), IGN

Growing meat consumption worldwide has increased the demand for feed grains such as maize. The rapid expansion of maize cultivation, especially in forested areas, has prompted concerns about its environmental impacts. This thesis explores the sustainability challenges surrounding the cultivation of maize in Thailand, which is a major exporter of poultry to European and Asian markets. For over twenty years, small-scale farmers have been cultivating maize in the mountainous areas of northern Thailand, where it has been an important source of income. As maize cultivation has rapidly grown in response to demand, maize farmers have been blamed for causing deforestation. Sustainability projects have been encouraging maize farmers to instead grow tree crops to increase 'green' areas. However, not all farmers have enough land and resources to make the change. This study shows that sustainability projects need to pay more attention to issues of inequality. It also shows that maize farmers have been disproportionately blamed for causing environmental problems, compared to the agribusinesses, government policies, and consumers that have incentivized maize cultivation.

A digital version of the PhD thesis can be obtained from the PhD secretary