In the postwar period, the government of Thailand has exercised a range of policy instruments that have influenced the prices of agricultural goods. Policies towards the export of rice have been the most important, but a range of other goods, specifically sugar, rubber, maize, and vegetable oils has also been directly subject to government policy. The history and political economy of these policies have recently been well described by Siamwalla and Setboonsarng (i987), who also make estimates of the economic effects on domestic prices, on transfers of resources between agriculture and government, and on consumer welfare. In an earlier study of rice policies, Trairatvorakul (I984) makes an even more ambitious attempt to track the effects of the policies, not only on government revenue and household welfare, but also as far as the influences on urban and rural real wages, and on the nutritional status of the population.
This paper is less ambitious than either of these earlier studies, and focuses on only one part of the story, albeit a part that is important and that has been lightly researched in the earlier literature. I am concerned here with patterns of household demand and supply and how knowledge of those patterns affects the assessment of pricing policies.