Factors affecting strategic marketing decisions in agriculture : a study of fruit farmers in Thailand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Agribusiness at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The transformation of agri-food marketing systems worldwide has implications for small-scale fruit farmers in Thailand. Effective strategic marketing decisions (SMDs) of farmers are essential elements in response to market transformation. Based on the theory of strategic decision making, SMDs are made in regards to the availability of internal resources, the dynamics of the external environment and the goals that need to be accomplished. Previous literature mostly explains the SMDs of individual farmers in developed countries. Research work in developing countries generally concentrates on SMDs, in order to link small-scale farmers to markets. Characterised by small-scale operations farmers in Thailand were not considered as being leading actors in agri-food value chains. As a result, available research on SMDs, which reflect farmers' strategic capability, was scarce within a Thailand context. This study employed a quantitative survey-based approach to determine key factors that affect the SMDs of fruit farmers in Chanthaburi province of Thailand. Qualitative data was also collected in a pilot study, in order to develop the conceptual model and the foundation of the questionnaire. The survey data was collected from 216 fruit farmers, through the use of face-to-face interviews with structured questionnaires. Descriptive statistics and chi-square tests were employed to describe and compare the fruit farmers who used traditional marketing channels (TM users) with those who used high-value marketing channels (HM users). Furthermore, factor analysis was employed to identify factors included in the conceptual model, and logistic regression was employed to test the hypotheses. This study found that SMDs towards high-value market participation were positively related to business size, experience in fruit farming, perceived importance of market requirements, and farmers' goals in regards to effectiveness. The results suggest that small business sized farms need to improve their productivity and increase their business capacity, via collective actions that would allow them to benefit from collective learning with experienced farmers, which could lead to updated market information. It was also noted that some farmers aimed to achieve their production goals by focusing on efficiency, while others desired a simple lifestyle by focusing their lives on self-sufficiency. This implied that different types of farmers needed to be encouraged in different ways, in order to develop their strategic capabilities as important stakeholders in the fruit industry of Thailand.
Tropical fruit, Marketing, Fruit growers, Horticulture, Agriculture, Thailand