Farmers are ageing across the globe, and not just in the usual suspect countries and regions such as Australia the EU, and the US. This is also increasingly documented in countries which are still ‘developing’ rather than mature economies. HelpAge International in a report on older farmers in low and middle-income countries states that ‘there has been a universal trend of an increase in the proportion of older people and a decrease in younger people residing in rural areas [of low- and middle- income countries]’.
This trend has spread across Asia, and nowhere in the world are populations ageing faster than in East and Southeast Asia. This is presented as a ‘problem’ with implications for agricultural productivity, rural poverty and elderly care. Drawing on fieldwork in Thailand, this research interrogates this assumption. By examining farming as an activity within households that are occupationally diverse and spatially promiscuous, the research argues that it is necessary to see farming not as a singular occupation but instead as part of livelihood complexes. The raw data used to construct the ageing farming problem and the causalities that flow from it is questioned, in both rural Thailand and in smallholder farming across Asia.