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Gambling with the Land

The Contemporary Evolution of Southeast Asian Agriculture

Rodolphe de Koninck and Jean-Francois Rousseau

Publication Year: 2012

Since the early 1960s, Southeast Asia countries have satisfied local demand for food while catering increasingly to the world market for agricultural produce, primarily through the export of industrial crops. Local production of food, particularly rice, has kept pace with population growth, while a massive intensification of cultivation along with territorial expansion of the agricultural realm have improved food security as a whole, although not for every country in the region. Expansion is also occurring in the maritime domain, with aquaculture growing even faster than land-based cultivation. Both forms of expansion have increased pressure on environmental resources, especially on forests, including coastal stands of mangrove. Countries in the region gambling higher production levels can be sustained without jeopardizing regional food security, and the stakes are very high. Gambling with the Land surveys and analyzes the production and trade of major agricultural crops throughout Southeast Asia between 1960 and the first decade of the 21st century. After reviewing the post-colonial role of agriculture in the eight major agricultural countries -- Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines -- the authors examine regional patterns of population growth and agricultural employment, positioning the region within broader world trends. Their carefully documented investigation highlights a number of salient processes as characteristics of the region's still rapidly expanding agricultural sector, and evaluates future prospects based on current trends.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-7

List of Figures

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pp. vii-xii

List of Maps

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pp. xiii-xiv

List of Appendices

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pp. xv-16

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pp. 1-10

This book is part of a series resulting from a five-year international research project (2005–10) funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Titled “Challenges of the Agrarian Transition in Southeast Asia”, it has involved collaboration between scholars, faculty as well as graduate students from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore as well as Canada, the UK...

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Chapter 1: Introduction: Assessing the Dynamism of Southeast Asian Agriculture

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pp. 1-10

This book is one among several being prepared in the context of a collaborative research project titled “Challenges of the Agrarian Transition in Southeast Asia” (De Koninck 2004). Its specific purpose is to provide an overall...

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Chapter 2: Southeast Asian Agricultural Expansion in Global Perspective

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pp. 11-22

Until the sixteenth century, throughout the world, cropland* expansion remained moderate, as did population growth. Things began to change following European explorations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, themselves followed by colonial expansion. By the early eighteenth century cropland expansion...

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Chapter 3: Growth, Development,Urbanization and Globalization

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pp. 23-40

If UNPOP estimates prove right, the population of Southeast Asia will total more than 760 million inhabitants by 2050, compared to a little over 175 million in 1950 and nearly 600 million by 2010. Population growth...

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Chapter 4: The Relative Decline of Agricultural Employment

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pp. 41-50

Since the 1950s, the number of Southeast Asians still depending on agriculture for their livelihood, wholly or partially, has continued to increase across the region, except in Malaysia. This increase is largely attributable...

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Chapter 5: Agricultural Growth, Diversification,Intensification and Expansion

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pp. 51-80

Economic indicators often provide a distorted picture of the relative importance of agriculture in Southeast Asia. In this particular case, the fact that, in almost all countries, agricultural value added per worker is not as important as GDP per capita could lead...

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Chapter 6: Expansion and Intensification of Food Crops and Increase in Livestock Production

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pp. 81-102

Although in several regions, other cereals and tubers are widely consumed and in some cases even favoured, rice remains by far the major staple in Southeast Asia. It is also the most widely cultivated food crop and, in every country, the one which has received and continues...

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Chapter 7: Expansion and Intensification of Cash Crops

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pp. 103-140

Among major plantation crops cultivated in Southeast Asia, oil palm is the one whose territorial expansion has been the most significant since the postcolonial period. In 1961 oil palm plantations covered less than 115,000 hectares, and in 2008 they covered over...

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Chapter 8: Pressuring the Land and the Sea

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pp. 141-158

For centuries, fish* and seafood† have represented key elements in the diet of a large number of Southeast Asian communities. In 2001, as sources of protein, they were at least as important as meat in all countries except...

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Chapter 9: Conclusion:Gambling with the Land

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pp. 159-164

Th is documented survey of the major trends in Southeast Asian agricultures since the 1960s allows us to identify a number of salient characteristics and processes which can be summarized as follows: 1) Throughout the colonial period, cropland expansion has been...


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pp. 165-170


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pp. 171-177


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pp. 178-187

Further Reading

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pp. 207-210

E-ISBN-13: 9789971696993
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971695538

Page Count: 250
Illustrations: 6 maps, 138 figures
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: New