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FRUIT PRODUCTION, MARKETING AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM IN THAILAND

FRUIT PRODUCTION, MARKETING AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM IN THAILAND
 
 
Lop Phavaphutanon
Department of Horticulture,
Faculty of Agriculture at Kamphaeng Saen,
Kasetsart University, Kamphaeng Sean Campus,
1 Malaiman Road, Kamphaeg Sean, Nakhon Pathom 73140
Thailand
 
E-mail: agrlpv@ku.ac.th
 
 
ABSTRACT
 
Thailand is one of the major tropical fruit producers in the Southeast Asian region. At present, 1.9 million households are engaged in fruit production and fruit growers represent 30% of the total farm households in the country.  Up to 57 different fruit species are commercially produced in Thailand with a total area of 1.31 million hectares and an average production of 7.5 million tons and a total annual value of US$2,823 million. Of this US$928 million of which is being generated from exporting Thai fruit.  Export markets are mainly in Asia where China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Korea are major customers for fresh fruit while Canada and USA are for the frozen ones.  The current six major economic fruit crops in Thailand are longan, durian, mangosteen, rambutan, mango and longkong covering around 0.9 million hectares of land area and producing 4.45 million tons of fruit annually.  The other six minor economic fruit crops are pummelo, lychee, tangerine, banana (AAA group; Gros Michel), baby banana (AA group; Kluai Khai) and papaya covering the area around 0.2 million hectares and producing 1.74 million tons of fruit annually.  Detailed information on production, growing areas, yield, farmgate value, harvesting season and export market of each important fruit between 2008 and 2013 were discussed.  A large number of planting materials can be obtained from a trustful orchard via negotiations while commercial nurseries and governmental agencies contribute to this role. Popular imported fruit in Thailand are  apple, pear, cherry, grape, orange, strawberry, persimmon, kiwifruit, etc., from different sources including China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Chile, South Africa, etc. with the value over US$ 1,000 million annually.  Apples are predominant among those temperate fruit and more than 100,000 tons of apples were imported annually with a value over US$ 100 million.  Research and development for Thai fruit sector follows the Thai Fruit Strategy 2010-2014 that focuses on the development of production potentials of tropical fruit.
 
 
Keywords: Tropical fruit, Thailand, fruit import and export, plant propagation
 
 
INTRODUCTION
 
Thailand is located in Southeast Asia between 5o 37'-20o 27' north and 97o 22'- 105o 37' east with an average annual rainfall of 1,258-1,736 mm, annual rainy day of 130-186 days and an average temperature range between 19o and 38oC.  These climatic conditions enable Thailand to commercially produce various kinds of tropical fruit.  Sub-tropical fruit such as longan and lychee can also adapt and perform well under Thailand’s climatic conditions and become economically important.  The area of the whole country is 51.3 million hectares and 23.8 million hectares of which is classified as agricultural area.  Rice is the major economic crop covering up to 47% of agricultural area while fruit crops occupy about 1.3 million hectares of agricultural area (11.6% of rice production area).  Of the 6.5 million households involved in Thailand’s agriculture, 1.92 million households were reported as fruit growers.  According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the annual volume of tropical and sub-tropical fruit that are commercially produced is 7.49MT. This has a value of US$2,823 million.  Thailand also leads in the exportation of processed pineapple (US$598 million), longan (US$470 million), durian (US$175 million), mangosteen (US$64 million), mango (US$63 million), etc. in 2011.  However, it was reported that more than 75% of Thai people consume fresh fruit and vegetables less than 400 g per day which is the standard amount recommended by the FAO. 
 
This paper aims to provide information on the tropical fruit sector in Thailand between 2008 and 2013.  The first part of the article deals with production and marketing of important fruit and the second part focuses on the national fruit research and development system in Thailand.
 
METHODOLOGY
 
For the production and marketing of important fruit crops in Thailand, the information and statistics were gathered mainly from the published sources of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Commerce available between 2008 and 2013. These sources of information are commonly used as references at the national level. Some information were extracted from the database of the Agricultural Production Information System Online, Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.  Important fruit crops were identified based on their production area, production volume and value, export volume and value and number of household involved in those fruit crops.  Additional information of certain fruit crops that are of interest in other countries in Southeast Asia but are not on the top list in Thailand were also included.  Details on harvesting season, production area, total yield, average yield, value, farmgate price and exportation were provided for each selected fruit crops.  Information on fruit importation and their origins was gathered from the database of the Customs Department, Ministry of Commerce. Thailand is leading the world in production and export of processed pineapple.  As most pineapples are grown for processing, the information on fresh pineapples is omitted in this paper.         
 
For the national fruit research and development system in Thailand, Thai Fruit Strategy 2010-2014, public and private organization involved in fruit research and development, and examples of research and development programs for fruit crops in particular, were described.
 
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
 
Production and marketing
 
More than 1,000 varieties of tropical and sub-tropical fruit were reported in Thailand and 57 kinds of fruit are produced commercially.  Currently, the six major economic fruit crops in Thailand are longan, durian, mangosteen, rambutan, mango and longkong covering the area around 0.9 million hectare and producing 4.45 million tons of fruit annually.  The other six  minor economic fruit crops are pumelo, lychee, tangerine, banana (AAA group; Gros Michel), baby banana (AA group; Kluai Khai) and papaya covering the area around 0.2 million hectares and producing 1.74 million tons of fruit.
 
Fruit growers
 
A large number of households (over 100,000 households/fruit crop) are engaged in the production of mango, longan, durian, mangosteen, rambutan and longkong (Table 1) and to less extent for tangerine, pumelo, lychee, banana and baby banana.  Between 2010 and 2013, the number of households involved in the production of mango, rambutan, tangerine, pumelo and lychee decreased gradually, particulary tangerine, while those involved in other fruit crops either went up and down as found in longan, durian, mangosteen, longkong and baby banana or remained relatively stable as found in banana.
 
Harvested area
 
Planting area of fruit crops all over the country was approximately 1.3 million hectares including new planting and baring trees.  Among the six major fruit crops in Thailand, mango had the largest production area with harvested area of over 300,000 hectares scattered throughout the country.  Its harvested area still increased in 2008 to 2013.  Longan ranked second in harvested area after mango with harvested area of over 150,000 hectares followed by durian, mangosteen, rambutan and longkong.  Between 2008 and 2013, harvested area of mangosteen and longkong increased while that of durian and rambutan decreased (Table 2).  For those minor fruit crops, their harvested area was much lower than those six major fruit.  Banana had relatively stable harvested area between 2008 and 2013 while the others decreased gradually, particularly for tangerine. The information on orchard size per household and the proportion of large, medium and small-scale orchards is not directly available on a country level.  The estimation of average orchard size per household based on the data on Tables 1 and 2 revealed that each household had less than 2 ha of harvested area which was much lower than 4.2 hectare per household, which is the average farm size in Thailand.
 
Total fruit yield
 
Having the largest production area, mango had the highest total yield of over two million MT each year and its production still increased between 2008 and 2013.  Longan was in the second rank after mango and its production increased significantly from around 400,000 metric tons in 2008 to more than 800,000 MT in 2013.   For the rest of the major fruit crops, durian ranks third followed by rambutan, mangosteen and longkong, respectively.  Their production went up and down between 2008 and 2013 (Table 3).  For the minor fruit crops, tangerine yield had a significant decrease in total yield from 647,000 MT in 2008 down to 155,000 MT in 2013 corresponding to its decreased production area.  Total yield of pumelo and baby banana also decreased between 2008 and 2013 while that of lychee went up and down and that of banana was relatively stable during the same period (Table 3).
 
Production value
 
Mango, longan, durian, mangosteen, rambutan, longkong, tangerine and pomelo are fruit of high production value (Table 4).  Mango led other fruit significantly in terms of value corresponding to its largest production area and total yield.  Its value increased from US$959,622,176 in 2008 to US$2,367,611,355 in 2013.  Longan and durian ranked after mango and their production value increased almost two to three times from the year 2008 to 2013.  The production value of mangosteen also increased, from US$ 68,922,260 in 2008 to over US$100 million in 2013.  The production value of rambutan was US$123,822,694 in 2008 and it increased to US$214,060,046 in 2013 with a drop down to US$144,304,030 in 2012.  For longkong, the production value between 2008 and 2013 varied in the range of US$70 million to over US$100 million with the high production value of US$114,099,348 in 2010.  The production value of tangerine decreased significantly from over US$300 million in 2008 down to US$143,159,493 in 2013 due to its reduced production area while the production value of the other citrus, pomelo had increased gradually since 2008 (Table 4).
 
The production value of lychee, banana and baby banana between 2008 and 2013 was much lower than those in the high production value group. Their value was below US$50 million annually for each crop and it went up and down (Table 4).
 
Harvesting season
 
Different geographical areas of Thailand influence flowering, fruit development and harvesting season of fruit crops.  For example, durian and mangosteen from the eastern coast region are ready to harvest a month before compared to those from the southern region.  The gradient maturity from the central region to further north occurs in mango that extends harvesting window for seasonal mango.  Off-season fruit production technology is currently available.  Paclobutrazol, a plant growth retardant that inhibits gibberellins biosynthesis, is commonly used to induce flowering in mango.  Potassium chlorate or sodium chlorate has been used to successfully induce flowering of longan.  It makes longan production possible in the regions lacking low temperature that is required for flower induction.  This “forcing” technology enables off-season fruit production and most of the seasonal fruit crops are currently available all-year round (Fig. 1).  However, more than 90% of economic tropical fruit are in the market between April and September, particularly in May and August causing a continuous problem of over supply and low price.  Most tropical fruit have relatively short shelf life as compared to temperate fruit.  Inefficient fruit gathering from small-scale farms and distribution of fruit out of the production site make the situation worse during the peak season.
 
Exportation of Thai fruit
 
Although mango led the other fruit crops in terms of production area, total yield and production value, it was mainly produced for the domestic market.   Less than 2% of the total production was exported each year.   However, its export quantity and value tended to increase between 2008 and 2013 (Table 5 and Table 6).  Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of longan, durian and mangosteen.  In 2013, Thailand exported more than 400,000 MT of longan generating over US$200 million (Table 5 and Table 6).  The exportation of longan has grown significantly from less than 200,000 MT in 2008 with the export value of US$87 million to 413,440 MT in 2013 with the export value of US$274.3 million.  The exportation of durian increased from 240,000 MT in 2008 with the export value of US$123 million to more than 386,000 MT in 2013 with the export value of US$275 million (Table 5 and Table 6).  For mangosteen, the exportation went from 44,000 MT in 2008 with the export value of US$24 million to more than 100,000 MT in 2009 and thereafter with an export value of over US$60 million each year and increased to more than 200,000 MT in 2013 with the export value over US$100 million (Table 5 and Table 6).  The exportation of rambutan tended to increase from 6,000 MT during 2008-2009 period with the export value of US$4 million to 14,000 MT in 2013 with the export value of US$20 million (Table 5 and Table 6).  A large increase of export was observed in longkong, from less than 1,000 MT in 2008 with the export value of US$0.3 million to almost 5,000 MT in 2013 with the export value of US$3.2 million.  Tangerine exportation decreased significantly between 2008 and 2013 corresponding to the decrease in production area.  Its export quantity went down from 14,000 MT at the value of US$8.7 million to 1,000 tons at the value of US$1.2 million while the exportation of the other citrus, pomelo, tended to increase gradually from 11,000 to 14,000 MT between 2008 and 2013.  Over the same period, exportation of lychee and banana tended to decrease while that of baby banana tended to increase (Table 5 and Table 6).
 
PRODUCTION AND MARKETING OF SELECTED FRUIT CROPS
 
Longan (Dimocarpus longana Lk)
 
Total production area in 2012 was 164,517 hectares with total production of 876,269 MT.  The major production area in the northern region was in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Chiang Rai and Phayao provinces.  Chanthaburi province in the eastern region was also the important longan production area (Fig. 2).  Among several longan cultivars (‘E-Dor’, ‘Haeo’, ‘Biao Khiao’, ‘Si Chomphu’, ‘Petch Sakhon’, ‘Puong Thong’, etc.) which are commercially grown in Thailand, ‘E-Dor’ is the main cultivar covering planting area more than 100,000 hectares with the production over 500,000 MT each year.  Longan is a sub-tropical fruit that requires low temperature to induce flowering and therefore its production area was initially restricted to the northern region.  After flower induction technology was established by using potassium or sodium chlorate, longan production has been expanded successfully to other regions.  The average yield of longan in Thailand was 5,145 kg per hectare.  The average farmgate price of high quality longan (AA grade) was US$931 per MT and US$799 per MT for lower grade (A grade).  Besides fresh and dried longan, other products such as longan powder, baked longan and longan sugar have been developed for the health food niche market.  Longan seeds were also processed to be medicine and cosmetic.  Only 6% of the total production was consumed in Thailand and the rest was exported.
 
Fruit consumption
 
The report on the health investment plan in the 10th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2007-2011) indicated that more than 75% of Thai people consumed fresh fruit and vegetables less than the standard benchmark (at least 400 g per day) recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).  The health survey during 2008-2009 by the Health Systems Research Institute, Ministry of Public Health revealed that 72% of Thai population with age over 15 years old consumed 120 g of fresh fruit per day in average which was still below the recommendation of 160 g per day.  The number of population that consumed adequate fresh fruit on the daily basis in Bangkok Metropolitan and the southern region is greater than the northern, northeastern, and central regions, respectively.  This was in part related to income and accessibility to fresh fruits.  In this survey, females tended to consume fresh fruit slightly higher than males.  Public policy to enhance vegetable and fruit consumption in relation to health benefit has been implemented by governmental agencies and private sector.  School children have high priority among target groups in this policy.
 
Another report by the Office of Agricultural Economics in 2004 showed that Thai people annually consumed only 27.2 kg of fresh fruit per person in average (equivalent to 74.5 g per day) which was even lower than the information mentioned above.  According to the survey, 93% of the population still preferred to consume Thai fruit more than imported ones because of the diversity of fruit and their year-round availability.  Among various kinds of fruit, orange was the most popular fruit that people preferred to have on a daily basis while lychee was the least.  Decision to buy and consume fruit was based on the kind of fruits available in the markets, fruit quality, income, number of family members and special events during the year.  Population in the southern region consumed more fruit than those in other regions, 38 kg/person/year.  This was partly related to the higher average income of the population in this region and the southern region was one of the major fruit production areas of the country.  
 
Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of longans.  The export volume in 2012 was 596,422 MT, valued at US$414 million.  It was mainly exported as fresh fruit (76%) and dried fruit (22%) and to a less extent as canned (2%) and frozen longan (< 0.5%).  The major markets of fresh fruit were in China, Hong Kong and Indonesia.  Fresh fruit exported to USA must be irradiated with gamma rays.  For dried longan, China was also the major customer followed by Vietnam and Hong Kong.  Malaysia, Singapore and USA were important customers of canned longans while Japan and Hong Kong were important customers of frozen longans.
 
Durian (Durio ziebethinus)
 
Total production area in 2012 was 93,101 hectares with total production of 524,387 MT.  As durian is the true tropical fruit, its major production regions are in the humid area in the eastern and the southern parts of the country.  Chanthaburi and Rayong provinces in the eastern region were the major production area followed by Trad and Prachinburi provinces.  Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Ranong, Songkla, Yala and Narathiwat provinces were the major production area in the Southern region (Fig. 3).  The pocket area in Uttaradit province in the northern region with suitable microclimate is also well known for durian production.  There are more than 100 durian cultivars in Thailand but only four cultivars including ‘Mon Thong’, Cha-nee’, ‘Kra-dum’ and ‘Kan Yao’ are common in the market.  ‘Mon Thong’ is the major cultivar representing 65% of the total production.  The average yield of durian in Thailand was 5,690 kg per hectare.  The average farmgate price was US$1,056 per MT for mixed grade.
 
Up to 70% of the total production goes to export market that makes Thailand the world’s largest exporter of durian.  In 2012, 371,946 MT of durian was exported with the value of US$228 million mainly as fresh fruit (94%) and to the less extent as frozen (4%), paste (<1%) and dried form (<1%).  China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are major customers of fresh durian.  USA, China and Australia are major customers of frozen durian.  Russia, Hong Kong and Singapore are the markets of durian paste.  China, Hong Kong and Malaysia are the markets of dried durian.
 
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana)
 
Total production area in 2012 was 60,545 hectares with total production of 210,255 MT.  Similar to durian, production area of mangosteen is mainly in the eastern and Southern parts of Thailand.  Chanthabutri, Rayong and Trad provinces in the eastern region and Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Narathiwat provinces in the southern region are the major production area of mangosteen (Fig. 4).  Mangosteen is believed to have only one cultivar.  The average yield of mangosteen in Thailand was 3,242 kg per hectare.  The average farm gate price was US$618 per MT for mixed grade.
 
Currently, Thailand is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of mangosteen.  In 2012, 149,398 MT of mangosteen, representing 89% of the total production, was exported and valued at US$94 million mainly as fresh fruit (>99%) and less than 1% as frozen fruit.  Vietnam, China and Hong Kong were the major importers of fresh fruit while South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong were the major importers for frozen fruit.    
 
Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum)  
 
Total production area in 2012 was 50,352 hectares with a total production of 334,087 MT.  Similar to durian and mangosteen, the major production area of rambutan is concentrated in the eastern and southern parts of Thailand.  Chanthaburi, Trad and Rayong provinces in the eastern region and Suratthani, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon, Songkhla and Narathiwat provinces in the southern region were the major production area of rambutan (Fig. 5).  The main cultivar in the market is ‘Rongrian’ sharing almost 80% of the cultivated area followed by ‘Si Chomphu’ and other local cultivars.  The average yield of rambutan in Thailand was 6,331 kg per hectare.  The average farm gate price was US$551 per MT for mixed grade.
 
Most of rambutan goes to the domestic market and only 5% of the total production is exported.  In 2012, 20,493 MT of rambutan was exported and valued US$20 million mainly as fresh fruit (54%), canned (17%) and the unique product of de-seeded rambutan stuffed with a chunk of pineapple canned in syrup (29%).  United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Cambodia were the major importers of fresh rambutan, China, Myanmar and Malaysia for canned rambutan and USA, Japan and Germany for rambutan stuffed with pineapple in syrup.
 
Lychee (Litchi sinensis)
   
Total production area of lychee in 2012 was 21,834 hectares with the total production of 65,763 MT.  The major production area is in the northern region where sub-tropical climate prevails.  Chiang Mai is the major province producing more than 40,000 MT of lychee annually followed by Chiang Rai, Nan and Phayao provinces in the northern region (Fig. 6).  The main cultivar is ‘Hong Huai’ sharing about 73% of the cultivated area followed by ‘O-Hia’ and ‘Kim Jeng’ cultivars.  Certain cultivars of lychee such as ‘Khom’ and ‘Samphao Kaew’ adapt well to the climatic conditions of lowland area in the central region, particularly in Samut Songkhram where approximately 2,000 MT of  lychee was produced annually from this small province (Fig. 6). The average yield of lychee in Thailand was 2,300 kg per hectare.  The average farmgate price was US$602 per MT for mixed grade of ‘Hong Huai’. 
 
Up to 35% of the total production is exported.  In 2012, 18,631 MT of lychee was exported at valued US$18 million mainly as fresh fruit (62%) and canned in syrup (38%).  Fresh lychee is mainly exported to China, Hong Kong and Indonesia while canned lychee is mainly exported to USA, Malaysia and Cambodia.  Irradiation of gamma ray is required prior to exporting fresh lychee fruit to USA.
 
Longkong (Lansium domesticum)
 
Total production area of longkong in 2012 was 60,704 hectares with a total production of 122,902 MT.  The major production area concentrated in the tropical zone of the eastern and southern parts of Thailand.  Chantaburi, Trad and Rayong provinces in the eastern region and Nakhon Si Thammarat, Suratthani, Chumphon, Songkhla, Yala and Narathiwat provinces in the southern region are the major area of longkong production (Fig. 7). The average yield of longkong in Thailan was 2,046 kg per hectare. The average farmgate price was US$682 per MT for mixed grade.
 
Longkong is mainly produced to supply the domestic market.  Only 5% of the total production is exported.  Short shelf life, inefficient transportation of fruit out of remote production sites and insects attached to a fruit bunch limit exportation.   In 2012, 2,487 MT of longkong was exported at valued US$1.5 million as fresh fruit to Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam.  With proper cultural practice in an orchard to control fungal diseases,  postharvest treatment of Carbendazim fungicide and storing fruit bunches at 18?C made the transportation of fresh longkong to Hong Kong by sea freight possible.  This research finding will significantly enhance exportation of longkong in the near future.
 
Mango (Mangifera indica)
 
Among the various fruit crops in Thailand, mango has the largest production area scattered throughout the country.  Total production area of mango in 2012 was 327,405 hectares with a total production of 2,985,530 MT.  The major production area is in Phitsanulok province (producing >200,000 MT) in the lower north, Chiang Mai province in the north, Loei and Nakhon Ratchasima in the northeast and Prachuap Khiri Khan province in the upper south (Fig. 8).  In Thailand, fresh mango is either consumed as ripe, mature green or immature green fruit depending on cultivars. ‘Nam Dok Mai’, Nang Klang Wan’ and ‘Ok Rong’ are popular for ripe fruit.  The mature green cultivars such as ‘Khiew Sawoey’, ‘Fah Lan’ and ‘Mun Duen Kao’ are consumed when the fruits are fully grown but still green.  They are not sour and have unique crunchy and nutty or starchy taste.  The immature green mangoes are any cultivar picked when the fruit are still young with sour taste.  They are mainly used for cooking or consumed with traditional sweet fish sauce.  The average yield of mango in Thailand was 9,056 kg per hectare.  The average farmgate price was US$614 per MT for mixed grade.
 
Most of the mangoes produced (98%) are mainly for the domestic market and only 2% of the total production is exported.  In 2012, 76,313 MT of mango was exported with the value of US$78 million, 58% as fresh fruit, 34% as canned mango, 4% as frozen mango and less than 1% as dried mango.  Vietnam, Korea and Japan are the major export markets of fresh mango while Japan, USA and United Kingdom are the major export markets of canned mango.  Japan, Belgium and United Kingdom are the major export markets of frozen mango and USA, Hong Kong and United Kingdom are the major export markets of dried mango.  A network of mango growers in the whole country has been established in 2012 to improve mango exports.  Export market of Thai mango is still potentially expanding, ripen ‘Nam Dok Mai’ mango in Japan and Korea  and mature green ‘Khiew Sawoey’ and ‘Fah Lan’ in Vietnam.  Irradiation of gamma ray is required prior to exporting fresh mango fruit to USA.
 
Tangerine (Citrus reticulata Blanco.) 
 
Total production area of tangerine in 2012 was 15,087 hectares with the total production of 185,084 MT.  The top five production sites are in Chiang Mai, Prae and Ching Rai provinces in the North and Sukhothai and Khamphaeng Petch provinces in the lower north of Thailand (Fig. 9). Production of tangerine has decreased gradually due to high production cost and disease problems.  Well-known production sites for high quality tangerines in the lowland area of the central region near Bangkok almost disappeared. Currently, two common cultivars commercially grown are ‘Sai Nam Phueng’ or ‘Shogun’ and ‘Bang Mod’.   The average yield of tangerine in Thailand was 12,038 MT per hectare.  The average farmgate price was US$943 per MT for mixed grade. 
 
Most of tangerine fruits produced in Thailand (98%) are mainly for the domestic market and only a few can be exported as fresh fruit and juice products.  Export markets are in China, Vietnam, Laos and Singapore.
 
Pomelo (Citrus maxima) 
 
Total production area of pomelo in 2012 was 28,651 hectares with a total production of 245,500 MT.  Pomelo can grow well in different parts of the country and the top five production areas are in Samut Songkhram province in the central region, Chiang Rai province in the northern region, Pichit province in the lower northern region.  Prachinburi province in the eastern region and Kanchanaburi in the western part of Thailand (Fig. 10).  ‘Thong Dee’ (pink flesh), ‘Khao Nam Phueng’ (white flesh), ‘Khao Yai’ (white flesh), Khao Tang Kwa (white flesh) and ‘Tubtim Siam’ (pink flesh) are popular cultivars in the market.  The pink flesh ‘Thong Dee’ pomelo is predominant for exportation.  Pomelo from certain location with specific soil type and climatic conditions has superior quality and it has been registered for geographical indication (GI).  For example, Nakhon Chai Sri Pomelo refers to ‘Thong Dee’ and ‘Khao Nam Phueng’ pomelo grown in a ditch and dyke orchard system in Nakhon Chai Sri, Sam Phran and Phuttamonthon districts in Nakhon Pathom province.  The average yield of pomelo in Thailand was 8,906 kg per hectare.  The average farm gate price was US$870 per MT for medium size ‘Thong Dee’ pomelo.
 
Although pomelo fruit has the advantage for exportation as it has thick peel and long shelf life, only 4% of the total production is exported as fresh fruit.  Fruit apperance is the main criteria for export market.  Defects on peel either by insect pest or disease are not acceptable and it is difficult to control under tropical conditions.  Large number of fruit with high eating quality cannot meet this visual standard and remain in local markets.  In 2012, 13,368 MT of pomelo was exported with the value of US$4.4 million.  Major export markets are China, Hong Kong and Canada.
 
Banana (Musa spp.)
 
Total production area of baby banana or ‘Kluai Khai’ (AA group) in Thailand in 2012 was 5,072 hectares with a total production of 88,600 MT.  The top five production areas are located in Chanthaburi province in the eastern region, Phetchaburi and Nakhon Sawan provinces in the central region and Tak and Kanchanaburi provinces in the western region.  Currently, the promoted cultivar is ‘Kluai Khai Kasetsart 2’ with plump fruit, firm yellow flesh and sweet and fagrant taste.  The average yield of baby banana in Thailand was 17,470 kg per hectare.  The average farmgate price was US$285 per MT for mixed grade.
 
Total production area of banana or ‘Kluai Hom’ in Thailand in 2012 was 13,768 hectares with a total production of 233,200 MT.  The top five production areas are located in Pathum Thani, Phetchaburi and Saraburi provinces in the central region, Chumphon province in the upper Southern region and Nong Khai province in the Northeastern region.  The most popular cultivar is ‘Hom Thong’ (AAA group; Gros Michel).  The average yield of banana in Thailand was 16,908 kg per hectare.  The average farmgate price was US$186 per MT for large grade.
 
Up to 18% of the total production of baby banana is exported.  In 2012, 15,471 MT of baby banana was exported as fresh fruit with the value of US$4.5 million.  The major export markets are China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.  
 
For banana, only 1% of the total production is exported.  In 2012, 2,169 MT were exported as fresh fruit with the value of US$1.8 million.  The major markets are in China, Hong Kong and Singapore.  It is interesting to note that banana is in the third rank of imported fruit after citrus and apple in the Japanese market and the quota to import 8,000 tons of banana from Thailand was granted between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. One of the unique marketing channels is between Ban Laad Agricultural Cooperative in Petchaburi province and Shutoken Consumer Cooperative in Japan.  Every week, eight metric tons of pesticide-free ‘Hom Thong’ banana produced by members of Ban Laad Agricultural Cooperative is exported to Shutoken Consummer Cooperative all-year round generating around US$1 million income annually.   The cooperative in Thailand not only gathers good quality banana from members and takes care of the exportation but also provides planting materials at low cost, information on production scheduling, production technology, detailed production cost, loan, and consultancy for growers.  With this contract, a middleman is eliminated from the marketing system and banana growers receive their fair share from the trade and minimize the risk of over supply.
 
Minor fruit
 
Certain tropical fruit such as guava, papaya, dragon fruit and passion fruit are of importance in Southeast Asia.  These fruit crops are fast growing and begin to produce the first crop in the first year after planting.  However, their production in Thailand is relatively small compared to other major fruit crops presented earlier and their statistical information is very limited. In this section, production of these fruit crops is described in more detail based on the database of the Agricultural Production Information System Online, Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. 
 
Guava (Psidium guajava)
 
Between 2010 and 2013, number of household and harvested area of guava in Thailand gradually decreased.  The total production of all cultivars in 2010 was 396,256 MT and it went down to 256,445 MT in 2013 (Table 7).  Most guavas which are currently in the market are selected cultivars with relatively large fruit size, good flesh quality and mild guava smell as compared to Chinese and Indian cultivars that used to be popular in the past. This group of guava covers more than 50% of the total harvested area.  In this group, ‘Pan Si Thong’ cultivar is predominant followed by ‘Klom Sali’.  Another recently introduced cultivar, ‘Gim Ju’ is also in the group of large fruit and it covers about 25% of the total harvested area.  ‘Gim Ju’ has gained popularity and got better price as it has good flesh quality with very few seeds or sometimes seedless.  The major production area of guava is located in Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon and Ratchaburi provinces in the central region of Thailand.  In Nakhon Pathom province alone, more than 70,000 MT of guava are produced annually.  The average yield of guava in Thailand varied between 2010 and 2013 and it tended to decrease over time.  The average yield over this 4-year period was 48,277 kg per hectare.  The average farmgate price increased from US$400 per MT in 2010 to US$640 per MT in 2013 (Table 7).
 
Between 2010 and 2013, the exportation of guava tended to increase even though the harvested area and total production did not increase (Table 8).  Singapore is the major export market of Thai guava followed by Malaysia, Myanmar and Hong Kong.  In 2012, Singapore alone imported 2,697 MT of guava from Thailand representing 93% of guava exportation with the value of US$1,601,701.
 
Papaya (Carica papaya)
 
The number of papaya growers in Thailand decreased from 22,500 households in 2010 to 14,725 households in 2013 while the harvested area and total production went up and down in the range of 2,129 – 1,493 ha and 54,624 – 97,532 MT, respectively,  between the same period (Table 9).  The major production areas of papaya are in Phetchaburi, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi and Nakhon Sawan provinces in the central region, Sa Kaeo, Prachinburi, Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Chanthaburi provinces in the eastern region, Loei province in the Norteastern region, Tak and Chiangmai provinces in the northern region and Chumphon and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces in the upper southern region.  Papaya ring spot virus is still the major disease that limits papaya production in Thailand. Thai people consume green papaya as vegetable and ripe papaya is both used as fresh fruit and for processing.  Thai papaya having large, cylindrical shape fruit with pointed tip fits for both green and ripe papaya types.  ‘Khag Dum’ and ‘Khag Nuan’ are the major Thai cultivars in the market followed by ‘Sai Nam Phueng’ and ‘Co Co’.  ‘Pluck Mai Lie’, a cross between ‘Red Maradol’ from Mexico and the local cultivar ‘Khag Dum’ has increasingly gained popularity in the domestic market.  It has relatively short and cylindrical shape and smaller in size compared to ‘Khag Dum’ parent.  The attractive orange color flesh is firm, sweet and has less papaya smell, a kind of quality that fits well with the preference of young generation consumers.  The average yield of Thai papaya between 2010 and 2013 was 31,591 kg/ha and the average farmgate price was US$0.52/kg (Table 9).
 
A small proportion of papaya (less than 2% of the total production) was exported between 2010 and 2013.  According to the record of the Customs Department, Ministry of Commerce, export information was provided into two catagories; general papaya which is assumed to be typical Thai cultivars with large cylindrical shape fruit and the Mardi backcross Solo respresenting the small fruit papaya such as ‘Pluck Mai Lie’.  Exportation of the typical Thai papaya was high in 2011 corresponding to the high total production this year but there was a decreasing trend afterward.  For the Solo type papaya, there was an increasing trend of export value from US$84,589 in 2010 to US$239,109 in 2013 (Table 10).  Hong Kong, Singapore and United Arab Emirates are the major export markets of papaya from Thailand.  
 
Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus)
 
Introduced from Vietnam, dragon fruit can adapt well to different geographical conditions in Thailand ranging from the lowland, clay soil area in the central region, the humid area in the east coast, to the relatively dry area in the northern region.  The major production areas of dragon fruit are in Samut Sakhon, Ratchaburi and Suphanburi provinces in the central regions, Sakolnakhon and Nakhon Ratchasima provinces in the northeastern region and Chanthaburi province in the eastern region.  Consumers are attracted to its unique fruit apperance and high nutritional value although the taste and smell of its flesh were not well accepted at the beginning.  Being a fast growing crop, the production of dragon fruit was expanded and good clones with better taste and less smell were selected by growers.  At the same time, Thailand still imported large quantity of dragon fruit from Vietnam.  A wholesale price of imported dragon fruit from Vietnam is slightly higher than that of the local ones.   In order to compete with imported dragon fruit from Vietnam, high fruit quality and low production cost are important factors.  
 
Number of households, harvested area and total production of dragon fruit decreased significantly between 2010 and 2013 (Table 11) and this is in part due to the brown spot disease on stems and fruit caused by fungal infection, a major problem that limits dragon fruit production in Thailand.  Both white and red flesh dragon fruit are cultivated in Thailand and the white flesh dragon fruit is predominant in the market and gets slightly higher price than the red flesh one.  The average yield of dragon fruit in Thailand was 12,581 kg/ha and the average farm gate price was US$0.64/kg between 2010 and 2013.
 
Export information of dragon fruit was available only in 2012 and 2013.  The Customs Department, Ministry of Commerce reported that Thailand exported 224 MT of dragon fruit with the value of US$276,769 in 2012 and 140 MT with the value of US$275,179 in 2013, respectively.  In 2012, China and Hong Kong were the two major export markets; around 50% of exportation went to China and around 26% went to Hong Kong.  In 2013, the major export markets were switched to the Middle East countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and India.
 
Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis)
 
Passion fruit production in Thailand is limited to the high elevation area in the northern region including Phetchabun, Chiangrai and Mae Hong Son provinces.  Other production areas are in Buriram and Loei provinces in the northeastern region and Sa Kaeo province in the eastern region.  Based on the record reported by the Deparment of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the number of household, harvested area and total production of passion fruit decreased significantly between 2010 and 2013 (Table 12) which is in part due to virus disease problem.  Both yellow and purple passion fruit are cultivated.  The yellow passion fruit is mainly for juice and processing while the purple one in for fresh fruit.  The average yield of passion fruit in Thailand was 13,494 kg/ha and the average farm gate price was US$0.28/kg between 2010 and 2013.
 
The Royal Project Foundation of His Majesty the King of Thailand has promoted varieties of agricultural production in the highland of Chiang Mai province in the northern region in order to substitute for illegal opium poppy for many years.  Passion fruit, along with other small fruit including grape, cape gooseberry, raspberry and fig were introduced to the area as well as temperate fruit such as peach, nectarine, Chinese apricot, pear, etc.  Technical support from Taiwanese researchers on production of these fruit was provided to the project.  The Royal Project Foundation also provides marketing channel for those fruit growers, particularly the high end market in the cities.  Disease-free plants have been developed by the Royal Project to cope with virus disease and improve passion fruit production.  Passion fruit production under the Royal Project Foundation is mainly for fresh fruit and the production record is avaible only between 2011 and 2013 (Table 13).  Although passion fruit production under the Royal Project Foundation was relatively small as compared to the overall record provided by the database of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (Table 12), it is interesting to note that growers gained more income from producing fresh fruit and selling them to the Royal Project Foundation.
 
Imported fruit and their origins
 
In Thailand, imported fruit used to be considered as luxury items and they were generally more expensive than locally produced fruit.  The image of imported fruit as a gift, for special occasions and celebrations or fruit for the rich is common.  An increasing volume of imported fruit from China after the Free Trade Area agreement (FTA) has made them less expensive and become more affordable.  Thailand imports various kinds of fruit such as apples, pears, grape, citrus, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, kiwifruit, persimmons, strawberries, etc., most of which are from countries in the temperate zones including China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Chile, etc.  The top three imported fruit are apples, grapes and citrus with the total imported quantity over 200,000 MT and the value more than US$200 million annually between 2010 and 2013 (Table 14).  The importation of these fruit has been increased gradually, particularly for citrus.  Among these top three fruit, apple is predominant and more than 100 MT of apples, mainly as fresh fruit are imported annually with the value over US$100 million.  Although Thailand can produce both table grape and wine grape to supply the domestic markets, importation of grape as fresh fruit, juice and raisin increased between 2010 and 2013, most of which were imported as fresh fruit.  The major citrus produced in Thailand is tangerine (Citrus reticulata Blanco) and its production has declined gradually due to high production cost and disease problem.  On the other hand, citrus importation has increased significantly.  Mandarins and sweet oranges are major types of imported citrus with the imported value over US$100 million (Table 14).   More than 90% of imported citrus are from China.  Among these imported citrus, Satang mandarin from China, has gained popularity in Thailand in the past few years.  It is a seedless, small fruit size mandarin with attractive orange peel and unique sweet taste (Fig. 13).
 
More than 60% of imported apples are from China.  Other sources such as USA, New Zealand, France, Japan and Australia have smaller market share of imported apples in Thailand (Table 15).  A similar trend was also true for grapes.  China is the major supplier of grapes for Thailand followed by USA, Australia, Chile, Peru and India (Table 16).  From these statistics, it is clearly seen that imported apples and grapes from China are much cheaper compared to those from other sources.  This is probably the main reason why imported apples and grapes from China currently dominate the fruit markets in Thailand.   
 
Although Thailand is one of the major tropical fruit exporters, importation of tropical fruit from neighboring countries do exist.  The Customs Department, Ministry of Commerce reported that Thailand imported 18,651,856 kg of dragon fruit from Vietnam in 2013 with the total value of US$12,224,422, increasing from that of the year 2012 where 17,497,072 kg were imported with value of US$10,258,533.  A case of imported mango from Cambodia is of interest.  This mango is called as ‘Kaew Khamin’ in Thai language where Khamin or turmeric in English refers to attractive yellow flesh of this mango (Fig. 14).  ‘Kaew Khamin’ has thick flesh with less fiber, small and flat seed and its flesh texture and taste is good for green mango, ripen mango and processed mango.  It has been imported for a few years.  It may not be the best mango cultivar of Cambodia but it has competed well with locally produced mango, particularly those for green mango.  Thailand has imported mango including ‘Kaew Khamin’ from Cambodia in the past few years (Table 17) even though local mango production was readily in large quantities.  The incident suggested that fruit markets in Thailand are more open to imported fruit that their taste matches with preference of consumers and having affordable price.   
 
Planting materials
 
A planting material of good quality is one of the key factors in the success of orchard establishment and sustainable productivity.  Fruit growers always seek for planting materials with uniformity, healthy and true to cultivar of choice at affordable price.  Plant quarantine and quality of planting materials of fruit crops in Thailand are not well controlled and the regulation by authority is very limited.  Fruit growers generally take their own risk on plant materials’ contamination and transmission of diseases and insects as well as getting the wrong cultivars by accident.  To avoid genetic variation, most planting materials of fruit crops are propagated asexually by air layering, stem cutting, grafting and budding depending on fruit species.  Seed propagation of tropical fruit is limited to certain crops such as papaya, passion fruit, aromatic coconut and those produced for rootstock.  Commercial nurseries and most research stations under the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives specialized in propagation of tropical fruit which are located in different regions of the country and produce planting materials of fruit crops mainly grown in that region.  However, many fruit growers still prefer to use their own mother plants for propagation to ensure that they get uniform planting materials of good quality from the known elite cultivars.  When a large number of planting materials is needed, fruit growers may select a trustful orchard and negotiate in advance to obtain bud wood for further grafting, finished planting materials propagated by air layering grafting or budding that are ready for field transplanting or semi-finished planting materials that require an additional period of time in nursery before field transplanting.  Planting materials of selected fruit crops are summarized based on how they are commonly propagated (Table 18).
 
Marketing in the fruit value chain
 
The severe flooding in 2011 destroyed several fruit trees in the central plain of Thailand, particularly well established durian trees in Nonthaburi province and pomelo trees in Nakhon Pathom province.  These two provinces have been well known for producing superior durian and pomelo.  As a result, the demand for planting materials to restore the damaged orchards was high.  Fruit trees survived from that flooding were limited and they were marked and used as mother plants for further propagation even though their conditions were sub-par.  Commercial nurseries in non-flooded areas could not produce planting materials to adequately meet this demand.  But the most interesting issue was the lack of confidence to use planting materials produced from other regions even though they were the same cultivars and propagated asexually.  This case indicated that the production of planting materials of certain fruit crops in Thailand needs to be improved with more regulation from the authority.
 
Marketing system of fresh fruit is less complex than other economic crops such as rice and sugarcane.  It is subjected to the free trade system that demand and supply drive the flow of fruit from production origin to consumers.  Fruit flow from orchards to collectors (middlemen) that further supply fruit to fruit collecting centers near the production sites, wholesale markets, supermarket depots, processing factories or export companies.  After that, fruit are further supplied to different forms of retail markets including supermarket chains, local fresh markets, fruit stalls, minimarts, etc.  For most fruit crops, traders visit orchards before fruit reach maturity to check for both quantity and quality.  Then price is negotiated based on fruit weight, fruit number and quality under the condition that all fruit in the orchard will be bought.  Traders make appointment to harvest the fruit and provide all harvesting services by their own crew as well as transportation.  At present, there is an increase in the number of fruit traders from China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia that set up a fruit buying point in the production sites to buy and export fruit such as longan, durian, mangosteen, etc. on their own independent of local traders.   Fruit growers benefit from this situation as they can access to better markets but local fruit traders face a big challenge to maintain their competitiveness in the business.  Competition is very high particularly in the early fruit season and causes problems such as selling and buying immature fruit, durian, in particular.  The governmental authority tries to monitor the situation and takes action to ensure fair trading and the reputation on fruit quality.
 
As tropical fresh fruit are perishable with short shelf life, a significant loss can occur along the supply chain due to improper management.  To compensate for this loss, the price offered to fruit growers is always kept as low as possible, particularly during the peak harvest season when there is a glut of fruit.  Inefficient marketing system would lead to increased cost of transaction that affects both the producer and the consumer prices.  A small-scale fruit orchard with small production capacity will face difficulty to survive alone under this typical marketing system unless they form a group to produce good quality fruit at the volume corresponding to the demand of middlemen or an export company under contract farming system.  A contract farming system is currently active for Thai fruit such as mango, mangosteen and banana for export markets and fruit growers generally receive higher price than the average market price.  However, at present, very few fruit grower groups and fruit grower cooperatives are successful in Thailand.
 
In addition to a local fruit market closed to the production sites and a typical wholesale markets in the Bangkok metropolitan, a ‘central market for fruit and vegetables’ as a one stop service wholesale and retail place is scattering around in each region of the country.   The size of the market is large with well access to transportation, cold room facilities for storage, grading and packaging, a crew to assist on moving fruit around, laboratory to check for chemical residue and updated on-line information on price of each fruit and vegetable.  Traders can rent a permanent space in the central market for buying and selling fresh fruit.  A company dealing with import and export of fruit is often attached to this central market.  Price negotiation in a central market between sellers and buyers is operated freely provided price information is updated.  Open spaces in a central market are also provided for growers to sell their fruit directly to customers to get fair price and avoid middlemen.     At present, there are 14 central markets for fruit and vegetables in Thailand which are promoted and overseen by the Department of Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and local administration.  The wholesale section of this type of market is very active for trading of imported fruit and vegetables and local produced vegetables.  It remains to be seen whether the proportion of locally produced fruit will increasingly flow in to this market channel.
     
Market intervention of Thai fruit sector by the government and local administration occurs as necessary during the peak harvesting season when there is over supply of fresh fruit and fruit prices go down to unacceptable level.  In case of longkong in the southern provinces of Thailand where the unstable conditions and violence still occur, unable to distribute fruits out of the production sites creates an additional over supply problem.   Budget is provided to buy large quantity of fruit out of the markets to reduce the supply and automatically increase the price.  These fruit are stored in cold storage facilities, processed to different products, or shipped away from the production origins to markets in large cities and Bangkok metropolitan for further sale.  This practice is costly and not sustainable.  Improvement of production plan and management to balance the demand and supply, marketing, processing and promotion of fruit consumption is needed.   
    
National fruit research and development system
 
The Agricultural Development Plan under the 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2012 – 2016) emphasizes on the development of farmers’ quality of life, production capacity, management of agricultural produce and food security and the development of agricultural resources.    Research and development for Thai Fruit sector follows this framework as well as the Thai Fruit Strategy 2010-2014 that focuses on the development of both production side and demand side.  The development of fruit production potential includes an increase in production efficiency, an improvement of fruit quality, expanding of off-season production, proper postharvest management, development of new cultivars having high potential for export and for adaptation to current environmental conditions and development of new value-added fruit products. In order to increase production efficiency and business negotiation power, a network of production and marketing needs to be improved.  Therefore, strengthening and empowering of fruit grower groups is of importance.  On the demand side, development of domestic market system, promotion of fruit consumption, more control on fruit importation, logistics development and support in the set up of a fruit distribution center domestically and internationally are significant.  Introducing Thai fruit to the world through different exhibitions organized by the government authorities and private sector in different countries also promotes the Thai fruit sector. This task is multidisciplinary and requires collaboration among various public and private agencies.
 
Government Agencies for Fruit Sector Development
 
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Ministry of Science and Technology and academic institutions are the major government agencies involved in the research and development of the fruit sector in Thailand with the support from research funding agencies.  The National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) is the major agency in charge of national research policy and granting research budget on various research areas including fruit crops.    Roles of these agencies and examples of outcomes from their research and development programs having impact on fruit sector are described.
 
Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) is responsible for research and development of fruit crops and other horticultural crops at the national level.  HRI is under the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.  It has eight research centers in different regions of the country and each center is responsible for major fruit crops commercially produced in the areas (Table 19).  Research and development projects on fruit crops include:- 1) Breeding program for disease tolerant cultivars with good quality and high yield, 2) Production  and management for high quality fruit and stable yield, 3) Collection and conservation of genetic resources and 4) Cooperation with national and international organization to establish safety and environmentally friendly production system.  Most of their research fund is provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. 
 
New cultivars and selections of durian, rambutan, mango, papaya and tamarind have been released for fruit growers from a long term effort of the crop improvement programs carried on by these research centers.  Appropriate production system and technology have been tested and verified for important fruit crops by researchers in the Department of Agriculture and further combined into Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) guideline for each fruit crop.  Following the GAPs guideline, fruit growers can improve their productivity, production efficiency and fruit quality and reduce unnecessarily use of pesticide and production cost as a whole.  Furthermore, under the GAPs guideline, registration of fruit growers and orchards as well as the farm auditing by authority are required.  This system pushes Thai fruit growers and their products to the new level that enhances their competitiveness in modern trade of fruits on both domestic and export markets.
         
Srisaket Horticultural Research Center sets up a good example of a long-term international collaboration.  The center has collaboration with Indonesia, Malaysia, India in the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Cultivated and Wild Tropical Fruit Diversity: Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods, Food Security and Ecosystem Services under United Nation Environments Programmes/Global Environment Facility (UNEP/GEF) between 2009-2014 focusing on 4 genera; Mangifera, Garcinia, Nephelium and Citrus.
 
In addition, there are eight regional offices of Agricultural Research and Development under the Department of Agriculture scattered throughout the country.  The Provincial Agricultural Research and Development Centers in each region are responsible for the research and development projects on appropriate production system and problem solving for farmers including fruit growers in the region.  At present, 66 Provincial Agricultural Research and Development Centers have been established. 
 
Department of Agricultural Extension (DOAE) is in charge of extension and development to strengthen farmers, farmer families, farmer organizations and community enterprises to be self supporting, to increase farmers’ capacity in production and management of agricultural produces according to the market needs, to transfer appropriate agricultural technologies to farmers and to give agricultural services according to the conditions of problems and farmers’ needs.  DOAE reaches farmers at both provincial and district levels.  There is the Office of the Provincial Agriculture in 77 provinces and the Office of District Agriculture in 882 districts of Thailand.  In addition, the Office of Agricultural Extension and Development (OAED) was established in six regions of the country.  The Agricultural Occupation Promotion and Development Centers are under OAED and 12 centers of which are devoted for horticultural crops including fruit crops.
 
Other agencies involved in research of fruit sector are Agricultural Research Development Agency (ARDA), Thailand Research Fund (TRF), National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR), universities and institutions under the Office of the Higher Education Commission.  Their role and involvement in the fruit sector research and development are described in more detail as follows:  
 
Agricultural Research Development Agency (ARDA) is an independent organization that provides grant to promote and support agricultural research including research projects on economic fruit crops in order to build and strengthen competitiveness in exportation. One of the recent ARDA research and development frameworks related to fruit crops is in the area of postharvest technology of fresh fruit.  The scopes of research are as follows: 1) A study on factors that limit exportation of important fruit crops and problem solving; 2) extending storage life of selected fruit at commercial scale; 3) management of postharvest disease of selected fruit on a commercial scale; 4) innovation on postharvest management of fresh fruit that meets the needs of each important import markets; and 5) development of information technology on Thai fruit marketing in countries which import fruit from Thailand.  Target fruit crops with postharvest problems identified by Thai Fruit Exporter Association are durian, mangosteen, rambutan and wax apple.
  
Thailand Research Fund (TRF) is a small organization under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office that builds up comprehensive knowledge and capability of researchers by providing research grants and managing of research projects. TRF pushes forward the utilization of knowledge from research funding to develop the country.  The Plant Production System and Supply Chain working group under the Agriculture Division of TRF supports research to improve quality build up comprehensive knowledge of Thai fruit and vegetables.  For fruit crops, TRF had research and development programs on longan, pomelo, papaya and baby banana.  Research topics of each crops covered a wide range of aspects from appropriate production system and technology for specific regions, postharvest technology, marketing, logistics, consumer preference and the effect of climate change on production and fruit quality.  The research project on Thai Fruit-Functional Fruit is also supported by TRF.  Beneficial substances to consumers such as flavonoids, carotenoids, enzymes, phenolic acids and prebiotic in durian, pomelo, mango, papaya, rambutan, banana, mangosteen, guava, lychee, jujebe, wax apple, sapodilla, custard apple, young aromatic coconut, pomegranate and jackfruit were analyzed.  The findings revealed the nutritional benefit of Thai fruit and promoted the consumption of those functional fruit.  TRF supported the set up of fruit research database compiling 3,150 research findings of 19 kinds Thai fruit that researchers can acquire information as well as sharing new research finding. TRF also supports the foundation of Excellence Center in academic institutions so that specific knowledge can be built up sustainably and comprehensively.  An example of Excellence Center devoted for longan, the top fruit crop in Thailand, is located in Maejo University, Chiang Mai province, northern region of Thailand.  The center has gained funding support from both university and TRF and cooperated internationally with the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) to run a wide range of research programs to provide knowledge and solutions necessary for longan production in Thailand.  
 
National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) is a section of the Ministry of Science and Technology that utilizes advanced science and technology to solve problems and increase operational efficiency in agriculture and industry.  NSTDA runs its own research programs in different research centers as well as grants research funds to researchers in academic institutions.  Examples of technology supported by NSTA involved with fruit crops are the methods to prolong the keeping quality of young aromatic coconut for export, development of fruit coating film from wax of rice bran, and biopolymer-plastic bag for fruit bagging.
 
Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR) is a state enterprise controlled by the Ministry of Science and Technology.  It organizes and integrates a wide range of research and development programs on food innovation, heathth products, medical instrument, renewable energy and environmental management for further utilization on a commercial scale as well as provides services and consultancy on science and technology with international standard system.  TISTR plays an important role on fruit processing in response to the Thai fruit strategy.  Perishable longkong and rambutan were developed into various kinds of products to enhance their value, to attract more consumers and to decrease the low price problem repeatedly occurs during the peak harvest season of both fruit crops. 
 
Researchers in academic institutions under the Ministry of Education play an important role in research and development of fruit sector in Thailand.  Their research programs are funded by their own institutions, private sector, fruit grower association, as well as granting agencies mentioned above.  The scope of research covers a wide range of discipline according to specialization of researchers, research facilities and fruit produced in the location.  The research outcome significantly impacts the development of the fruit sector.  Examples of those research findings are: new released guava cultivars, off-season production technology of mango and longan, improved harvesting index of several tropical fruit, nutrient requirement and nutrient management of durian and mangosteen, opportunity of Thai fruit in ASEAN markets, etc. International research collaboration often occurs through academic linkages between local and oversea institutions. List of selected universities involved with research and development of the fruit sector in Thailand is provided (Table 20).  In addition, there are 47 colleges of agriculture and technology in different regions of Thailand, some of which are also active in tropical fruit research.
 
CONCLUSION
 
This report gathered information and statistics in fruit production and marketing in Thailand between 2008 and 2013 as well as the national research and development system of the fruit sector in the country.   Information of important fruit crops was well documented but some tropical fruit considering their importance in Southeast Asia such as guava, papaya, passion fruit and dragon fruit are not fully covered at the national level.  It should be noted that information related to production values, farmgate prices, exports and imports on the entire report was calculated from a fixed currency exchange rate (1 US$ = 31 Thai Baht) for convenience while the actual currency exchange rate might fluctuate during that period of time when the survey was conducted.  The information revealed that Thailand is still one of the major tropical fruit producers in the world, particularly for longan, durian and mangosteen.  The strength of Thai fruit sector revolves around the existing good fruit cultivars with high quality and unique taste, climatic conditions that is suitable for tropical fruit production, adequate foundation of transportation and the growers, themselves. Most fruit growers in Thailand are skillful and operate a small-scale farm on their own piece of land.  Therefore, they can effectively take care of their business by themselves.  On the other hand, high and increasing production cost, labor shortage, which rely more on experience and feel rather than information and scientific based technologies and a lack of network and information are the weaknesses of Thai fruit sector.  Problems such as over supply during the peak harvesting season and unfair prices due to middlemen still exist in Thai fruit business.  Under the Free Trade Area Agreement with other countries and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) of 10 countries in Southeast Asia which is soon to be very active, there are opportunities and threats that Thai fruit sector has to encounter.  Improvement of both supply and demand sides through research and development and collaboration among stakeholders are of importance for the success of the Thai fruit sector.   
 
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  • Office of Agricultural Economics.  2014.  Agricultural  Statistics of Thailand 2013. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.  The Agricultural Co-operative Federation of Thailand, Limited Publisher, Branch no. 4, Nonthaburi.  213 p. 
  • Office of Agricultural Economics.  2014.   Fundamental Information on Agricultural Economics Year 2013.  Agricultural Statistic Document no. 402, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.  The Agricultural Co-operative Federation of Thailand, Limited Publisher, Branch no. 4, Nonthaburi.  104 p.
  • Phavaphutanon, L.  2008.  Tropical fruit cultivation as a successful business venture in Thailand.  J. ISSAAS. 14(1): 1-8.
 
CITED WEBSITES
 
  • Information of Longan Research and Development Center, Maejo University
  • Database of the Customs Department on fruit import/export statistics
  • http://internet1.customs.go.th/ext/statisticIndex2550.jsp
  • Information of the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
  • http://www.doa.go.th/hort/
  • Information of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
  • http://www.doae.go.th/page/organization_chart
  • Database of the Agricultural Production Information System Online, Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
  • http://production.doae.go.th/report/report_main_land_02_A_new2.php 
  • Information of Agricultural Research Development Agency (Public Organization)
  • http://www.arda.or.th/
  • Information of Thailand Research Fund
  • http://www.trf.or.th/
  • Information of National Science and Technology Development Agency
  • http://www.nstda.or.th/
  • Information of Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research
  • http://www.tistr.or.th/

 

Fig. 1. Harvesting season of major fruit crops in Thailand
          Most crops are currently available all-year round as indicated by the dash arrow lines.  
          The peak season of each crop was indicated by the dark horizontal bars.
 
 
Source: Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
 
 
 
 
 
Fig. 2. Distribution of longan production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).  The major provinces of longan production are listed.
 
Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
 
 
 
 
 
Fig. 3. Distribution of durian production in Thailand in 2012  
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).
The major provinces of durian production are listed
 

Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

 

 

Fig. 4. Distribution of mangosteen production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).
The major provinces of mangosteen production were listed.
 

Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

 

 

Fig. 5. Distribution of rambutan production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).
The major provinces of rambutan production were listed.
 
Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
 
 
 
 
Fig. 6. Distribution of lychee production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).
The major provinces of lychee production were listed.
 
Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
 
 
 
 
 
Fig. 7. Distribution of longkong production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).
The major provinces of longkong production were listed.
 
Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
 
 
 
 
 
Fig. 8. Distribution of mango production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).\
The major provinces of mango production were listed.
 
Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
 
 
 
 
 
Fig. 9. Distribution of tangerine production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).
The major provinces of tangerine production were listed.
 
Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
 
 
 
 
 
Fig. 10.  Distribution of pomelo production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).
The major provinces of pomelo production were listed.
 
Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
 
 
 
 
 
Fig. 11. Distribution of baby banana production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).
The major provinces of baby banana production were listed.
 
Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
 
 
 
 
Fig. 12. Distribution of banana production in Thailand in 2012
Size of planting area is indicated by different shade (in box).
The major provinces of banana production were listed.
 
Source: Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
 
 
 
 
Fig. 13. Imported Satang mandarin from China at a wholesale market in Thailand.
 
 
 
 
 
Fig. 14. ‘Kaew Khamin’ mango imported from Cambodia has gained popularity in local market.
 
 
 
Table 1.  Number of households involved in fruit production in Thailand between 2010 and 2013

Source: Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

 
 
 

Table 2. Harvested area of important fruit crops in Thailand between 2008 and 2013

Area unit in hectare

Source: Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives

 

 

Table 3. Total yield of important fruit crops in Thailand between 2008 and 2013

Yield unit in MT

Source: Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

 

 

Table 4. Value of major fruit crops in Thailand between 2008 and 2013 
 
Values are calculated from the total yield and farmgate price of each crop.
 
Value in US$  (1 US$ is 31 Thai Baht)
Source: Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
 
 
 

Table 5. Export quantity of important fruit crops between 2008 and 2013

Quantity in MT

Source: Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

 * Only the quantity of exported fresh fruit.

 

 

Table 6. Export value of important fruit crops between 2008 and 2013
 
 
 
 
Table 7. Number of households, harvested area, total yield,
average yield per unit area and farmgate price of guava between 2010 and 2013
Source: Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
* Calculated from total yield and value data.
 
 
 

Table 8. Exportation of guava between 2010-2013

Source: Customs Department, Ministry of Commerce

 

 

Table 9. Number of households, harvested area, total yield, average yield per unit area

and farmgate price of papaya between 2010 and 2013

Source: Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

* Calculated from total yield and value data.

 

 

Table 10. Exportation of papaya between 2010 and 2013

Source: Customs Department, Ministry of Commerce.

 

 

Table 11. Number of households, harvested area, total yield, average yield per unit area

and farmgate price of dragon fruit between 2010 and 2013

Source: Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

* Calculated from total yield and value data.

 

 

Table 12. Number of households, harvested area, total yield, average yield per unit area

and farm gate price of passion fruit between 2010 and 2013

Source: Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

 

 

Table 13. Passion fruit production promoted by the Royal Project Foundation in Chiang Mai province,

northern region of Thailand between 2011 and 2013

Source: The Royal Project Foundation

 

 

Table 14. Importation of major fruit between 2010 and 2013

Quantity in MT

Value in US$ (1 US$ = 31 Thai Baht)

Source: Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives in collaboration with the Customs Department, Ministry of Commerce.

 

 

Table 15. Origin of imported apples between 2010 and 2013
 
 

Table 16. Origin of imported grape between 2010 and 2013

 

 

Table 17. Importation of mango from Cambodia between 2011 and 2013

 

 

Table 18. Types of planting materials of selected fruit crops commonly used in Thailand