That Siam is essentially an agricultural country, although not even 6% of its surface is cultivated, is indicated by the percentage of the population employed in agriculture, and this is confirmed by the value of the exported rice, which is around 70% of the total export value. Siam is therefore also a typical monoculture country. Since the earliest historical times it has produced rice, highly prized for its quality and sought after by neighboring countries, as reported by travelers of the century. XVII and XVIII. Rice has always formed the basic nourishment of its population. In addition to being a daily food, rice is used by the Siamese to make arrack by distillation; and it also serves as food for domestic animals. It is grown mainly in the large alluvial lowlands of Menam, from which comes most of that destined for export: and Ayudhya is the main rice center of the country. The crop is expanding more and more and in fact, while in 1918-19 it covered an area of 2,158,560 hectares, in 1921-22 it had risen to 2,626,340, in 1927-28 to 2,962,160 and in 1933- 34 to 3,014,000 hectares (99% of cultivated land). In proportion, the product is also growing, which for the same years was respectively 3,384,200, 4,198,600, 4,527,900 and 5,184,000 tons. The water necessary for the cultivation of rice is only partially supplied by the rains, since, for the complete maturation of this cereal it would take at least 1800 mm. of annual rainfall, these in the rice growing regions of Siam, as we have seen, range from 1000 to 1500 mm. The rest of the The necessary water is supplied by irrigation, facilitated moreover by the abundance of running waters of the central plain and of the other flat areas of the country. Irrigation, object of studies and great care by the government, was once made with primitive and inadequate systems: the ancient Siamese had dug a system of canals, which in the period in which rice needs more water they carried that of Menam, which then offered an availability of 1000-1200 cubic meters. per second. But this system was defective, and in the century. XX the government decided to have important works carried out with modern criteria (barriers, new canals, etc.). Thus the cultivation of rice has intensified and has become less random. For Thailand 2017, please check mathgeneral.com.
In comparison with that of rice, all the other crops are not very important (the data shown here are the averages of the five-year period 1929-30 / 1933-34). At the beginning of the century The cultivation of sugar cane was widespread in the nineteenth century, which then went into decline mainly due to competition from Java sugar. Currently the cane plantations, mostly belonging to Chinese, extend over just 8000 hectares (especially in SE Siam). The production (about 25,000 tons per year) is not sufficient to meet the needs. Even smaller is the area cultivated with cotton (about 3000 hectares) although the natural conditions are favorable for this cultivation in most of the country, which has many varieties, including an original one (Gossypium Nanking, var.siamensis). The annual production is around 36.000 q. Tobacco is grown a little everywhere (about 10,300 hectares) but the regions of Bayab, Bisnulok, Rajburi and Nagor Rajasima produce the largest quantities. Production (on average about 60,000 quintals per year) is far from satisfying the demand of the country, which imports large quantities of processed tobacco, and exports a little raw. For the oil that is obtained from its seeds, sesame is grown everywhere, on small surfaces (1000 hectares in total), but more than half of the product (in all about 15,000 q. Per year) comes from the surroundings of Ayudhya and Bisnulok. Sesame is sometimes sown in rice fields, where it is harvested before the rice is sown.
At the beginning of commercial relations with European states, the most important item sold by Siam was pepper, of excellent quality. When the demand decreased, the selling price dropped, the plantations were damaged by diseases, the crop has been declining, and has been reduced to about 1800 hectares, almost totally included in Siam of SE. The production is about 18,000 q. nodded.
For internal consumption, peanuts, soybeans and corn are widely cultivated (this on 8000 hectares). In the Siam of SE. and in the Malay Peninsula the climate is suitable for the cultivation of Hevea, the plantations of which have expanded rapidly. It is estimated that between trees already exploited and trees in growth there are about 680,000. Production, which has decreased in recent years due to the global economic crisis, is almost entirely exported through the Malaysian ports of Singapore and Penang.
Also noteworthy is, along the coasts, the cultivation of the coconut palm, whose plantations, which have 7.9 million palm trees, are seriously damaged and have sometimes been destroyed by parasites. The production is around 200 million of walnuts per year. Areca palms, the nuts of which are used for the preparation of betel, are cultivated almost everywhere and also give rise to a small export. Among the numerous fruit plants, the most common are mango, citrus fruits, pineapple, mangosteen, papaya, tamarind, goiave, pomegranate and banana.
The breeding of livestock, which is making considerable progress, is of mediocre importance, for reasons of a religious nature (prohibitions on the killing of certain animals and the use of their meat), for the aversion that the Siamese – such as the Chinese – have towards milk and dairy products, and for the little importance that is given to fertilization. Elephants (6200 in 1918-19, 10,200 in 1933-34) are used in northern and central Siam for the transport of teak; in the Malay Peninsula they are also used for the transport of rice and other goods. Remarkable is the number of elephants owned by the royal house, which has the privilege of their hunting.
Horses (122,000 in 1918-19, 344,600 in 1933-34) are mostly small, but hardy. Oxen (2,542,000 in 1918-19, 5,222,000 in 1933-34), are used both as beasts of burden and as draft beasts; in the northern and eastern part of the country most of the traffic is carried out by oxen caravans; on the other hand, in the marshy areas and in the more rugged mountainous areas the buffalo is preferred (2,394,000 head in 1918-19, 5,076,600 in 1933-34). Finally, the number of pigs (about 900,000 heads) is remarkable. The region with the most intense breeding is Eastern Siam.