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Title: Sustainability of alternative land uses : comparing biofuels and food crops in Thailand
Author: Nualnoom, Pairote
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 7647
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2014
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The conflict of land use between food and energy security purposes has become an important issue since biofuel has been promoted as alternative energy. However, understanding of the dynamics of land use derived from the advent of biofuel crops is mostly based on extrapolations using computer simulations. In order to gain a better understanding, this research aims to comprehend the dynamics of land use via the implications of the perspectives, motivations and behaviours of local landowners and the government, and the impacts of land use change on the relevant stakeholders. The dynamics of land use are explored in the context of an oil palm based-biodiesel development in Thailand where the advent of oil palm has caused the loss of paddy areas. A sequential mixed-method strategy, including in-depth interviews and a questionnaire survey with 10 and 180 landowners respectively, indicates that the probability that the landowner switched traditional land for oil palm cultivation is affected by the household characteristics (age and education of the head of household, number of household farming labourers, amount and source of income, land size and land right). Moreover, the results indicate that success of switching land to oil palm cultivation was determined by several factors influencing willingness (factors relevant to outcome expectation and social networks and connections) and capacity to change (factors relevant to finance, labour, capital, land rights and transportation). The results regarding impacts of land use switching from analysis of secondary data from the input-output national accounts of Thailand reveal that switching paddy areas to oil palm cultivation would clearly provide better financial contributions to all stakeholders in the supply chain and to the whole economy. However, the impact of switching land use from rubber to oil palm would benefit some stakeholders (input providers and transporters at the crop farming stage and input providers and entrepreneurs at the industrial processing stage), while the farmers and other stakeholders would lose. In order to explore the policy makers’ perspectives on the issue of land competition between paddy and oil palm, in-depth interviews with three policy makers in the biofuel policy-making process were undertaken, as well as a literature review of secondary data. The key findings indicate that, even though the issue of loss of paddy areas used to be of serious concern to policy makers at the beginning phase of developing the biofuel project, they no longer took official interest in it after launching the project. The results also reveal that the substitution of oil palm in some paddy areas was readily accepted because switching to oil palm was seen to contribute to a better livelihood for farmers and also alleviates the fiscal encumbrance of assisting paddy farmers. In addition, the inertia in dealing with losses of paddy areas also reflected the traditions of the civil service system in that civil servants actively respond to the current needs of the political sector whereas policies which are not paid serious attention by the political sector, like the losses of paddy, are temporarily ignored.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available