Thais have been cultivating rice for 700 years.
More than half of Thailand's population is involved in growing,
processing, transporting and marketing rice. Thailand is the world's
largest exporter of rice. Other agricultural exports are tapioca,
coconuts, sugar, maize, pineapple, cotton, jute, green beans, soybeans
and palm oil. Thailand has also developed an important food processing
Rubber trees were introduced to Thailand 100 years ago. Thai farmers operate small rubber plantations on the island of Phuket in southern Thailand. Some farmers plant cashews or pineapples between the rubber trees.
Silk weaving is practised in the northeast. Families
raise silk worms in their homes. They boil the cocoons to release raw silk
threads. Throughout Thailand, cottage industries such as silk and basket
weaving provide families with income between agricultural seasons. During
the off-season, some Thai farmers load barges on the Chao Phya River that
runs through Bangkok.
Many Thais work in the fishing industry. In the Gulf of Thailand, fishermen use bright lights to lure squid into their nets. Recently, conservationists have expressed concern about the negative effects of overfishing in the Gulf.
The government encourages new industries in Thailand.
Automobile assembly factories have been set up to build cars and textile
factories produce clothing for export. Since the 1980s, tourism has increased.
It has stimulated the construction industry, which employs both men and
The Thai government has encouraged the hill tribes to stop the destructive practice of slash-and-burn agriculture and to grow vegetables for sale. When the growing season is over, the men of the hill tribes hunt birds and small animals. Some make and sell jewellery and embroidered clothes.