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Adoption, Cost and Livelihood Impact of Machinery Services Used in Small-Scale Sugarcane Production in Thailand

Chaya, Wirawat, Bunnag, Boosya, Gheewala, Shabbir H.
Sugar tech 2019 v.21 no.4 pp. 543-556
crop production, drought, farmers, harvesting, irrigation, issues and policy, livelihood, mechanization, production costs, rain, site preparation, sugarcane, surveys, tillage, villages, Thailand
A survey was conducted to explore the adoption, cost and livelihood impact of machinery services by small-scale sugarcane farmers at village level in 11 designated areas across Thailand. Distinct variations of those services were found for land preparation with 12 patterns of tillage service being identified. Average total costs of machinery services were between 45 and 65% of the overall production costs. Costs of harvesting and transport, irrigation and land preparation accounted among the highest. Copying behaviour and being under the quota subsystem played a major role in the adoption of machinery services. Tillage and irrigation services were perceived by a majority of farmers as the most important operation affecting their livelihoods, as determined by indicators such as reduced drudgery, meeting timeliness of operations, increased yield and profit, and reduced concerns over dry spells and droughts. However, those once relying on rainwater alone and experiencing difficulty in maintaining good yields placed the mechanized irrigation services at the highest priority. The quality of machinery services for client farmers especially not in the quota system was of concern as inferior quality of the services was reported in all designated areas. Solutions to the problems and policy implications to enhance the livelihood of farmers and creating demand and supply for machinery services have been suggested.