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  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2020

White Gold: The Commercialisation of Rice Farming in the Lower Mekong Basin

Palgrave Macmillan


  • Provides a comparative analysis of rice farming in four countries sharing the Mekong environment based on detailed field studies of farmers, input suppliers, processors, and marketing agents

  • Presents a localized, differentiated, farm-household perspective of rice policies and traces rice value chains across borders in Southeast Asia

  • Identifies the drivers and trajectories of rice-based farming systems in this dynamic environment

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 34.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (21 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxviii
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
  3. A Fragrant Aroma

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 37-37
    2. Commercialisation of Rice Farming in Northeast Thailand

      • Pornsiri Suebpongsang, Benchaphun Ekasingh, Rob Cramb
      Pages 39-68Open Access
    3. Evolution of Rice Farming in Ubon Ratchathani Province

      • Prathanthip Kramol, Benchaphun Ekasingh
      Pages 69-83Open Access
    4. Farmer Organizations in Ubon Ratchathani Province

      • Prathanthip Kramol, Pornsiri Suebpongsang, Benchaphun Ekasingh
      Pages 85-99Open Access
  4. A Sticky Situation

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 101-101
    2. From Subsistence to Commercial Rice Production in Laos

      • Vongpaphane Manivong, Rob Cramb
      Pages 103-119Open Access
    3. Adapting the Green Revolution for Laos

      • Liana Williams, Rob Cramb
      Pages 121-149Open Access
    4. Rainfed and Irrigated Rice Farming on the Savannakhet Plain

      • Silinthone Sacklokham, Lytoua Chialue, Fue Yang
      Pages 151-168Open Access
    5. The Supply of Inputs to Rice Farmers in Savannakhet

      • Chitpasong Kousonsavath, Silinthone Sacklokham
      Pages 169-186Open Access
    6. Rice Marketing and Cross-Border Trade in Savannakhet

      • Phengkhouane Manivong, Silinthone Sacklokham
      Pages 187-199Open Access
    7. Economic Constraints to the Intensification of Rainfed Lowland Rice in Laos

      • Jonathan Newby, Vongpaphane Manivong, Rob Cramb
      Pages 201-223Open Access
  5. In Pursuit of White Gold

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 225-225
    2. The Commercialisation of Rice Farming in Cambodia

      • Rob Cramb, Chea Sareth, Theng Vuthy
      Pages 227-245Open Access
    3. The Production, Marketing, and Export of Rice in Takeo

      • Chhim Chhun, Theng Vuthy, Nou Keosothea
      Pages 247-259Open Access
    4. The Role of Irrigation in the Commercialisation of Rice Farming in Southern Cambodia

      • Chea Sareth, Rob Cramb, Shu Fukai
      Pages 261-289Open Access
    5. The Supply of Fertiliser for Rice Farming in Takeo

      • Theng Vuthy
      Pages 291-308Open Access
    6. The Use of Credit by Rice Farmers in Takeo

      • Kem Sothorn
      Pages 309-326Open Access

About this book

This open access book is about understanding the processes involved in the transformation of smallholder rice farming in the Lower Mekong Basin from a low-yielding subsistence activity to one producing the surpluses needed for national self-sufficiency and a high-value export industry. For centuries, farmers in the Basin have regarded rice as “white gold”, reflecting its centrality to their food security and well-being. In the past four decades, rice has also become a commercial crop of great importance to Mekong farmers, augmenting but not replacing its role in securing their subsistence. This book is based on collaborative research to (a) compare the current situation and trajectories of rice farmers within and between different regions of the Lower Mekong, (b) explore the value chains linking rice farmers with new technologies and input and output markets within and across national borders, and (c) understand the changing role of government policies in facilitating the on-going evolution of commercial rice farming. An introductory section places the research in geographical and historical context. Four major sections deal in turn with studies of rice farming, value chains, and policies in Northeast Thailand, Central Laos, Southeastern Cambodia, and the Mekong Delta. The final section examines the implications for rice policy in the region as a whole.


  • Open access
  • Rice farming in Mainland Southeast Asia
  • Commercialisation of rice farming in the Lower Mekong Basin
  • Smallholder agricultural development in Southeast Asia
  • Rice value chains in Southeast Asia
  • Technological change in agriculture in Southeast Asia
  • Intensification of rice farming in Southeast Asia
  • Diversification of farming systems in Southeast Asia
  • Agricultural policy in Southeast Asia
  • Rice Farming in Thailand
  • Rice Farming in Laos
  • Rice Farming in Vietnam
  • Rice-Based Farming Systems in the Mekong Delta
  • Cross-Border Trade in Rice from Cambodia to Vietnam
  • Cross-Border Trade in Sticky Rice from Laos to Vietnam
  • Credit use by Rice Farmers in Southeast Asia
  • Supply of Fertiliser for Rice Farming in Southeast Asia
  • Irrigation in Rice Farming in Southeast Asia
  • Rainfed Rice Farming in Southeast Asia
  • Farmer Organizations in Southeast Asia

Editors and Affiliations

  • St Lucia, Australia

    Rob Cramb

About the editor

Rob Cramb is Honorary Professor of Agricultural Development in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at The University of Queensland, Australia. He has taught, researched, and consulted on agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia for over forty years. His previous books include Land and Longhouse: Agrarian Change in the Uplands of Sarawak and (with John McCarthy) The Oil Palm Complex: Smallholders, Agribusiness and the State in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: White Gold: The Commercialisation of Rice Farming in the Lower Mekong Basin

  • Editors: Rob Cramb

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Singapore

  • eBook Packages: Economics and Finance, Economics and Finance (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-981-15-0997-1Published: 30 January 2020

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-981-15-1000-7Published: 11 September 2020

  • eBook ISBN: 978-981-15-0998-8Published: 03 January 2020

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXVIII, 456

  • Number of Illustrations: 70 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Agricultural Economics, Development Studies, Human Geography, Asian Economics, Asian Politics

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 34.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)