Author(s): Kromkratoke, W., Mankeb, P., & Suwanmaneepong, S.
As rubber farmers’ cooperatives expand their operation and market through the special economic zones (SEZs) of Thailand, the question arises whether these cooperatives are operationally efficient or not since they have to compete with neighbouring countries. This study investigated the operational efficiency of rubber farmers’ cooperatives in Thailand and explores the factors affecting their operational performance using a two-stage data envelopment analysis approach. Three-year comparative data (2016-2018) were collected from six major rubber-producing provinces in the SEZs of Thailand, and categorized into three business phases, the beginning, progressive, and developed phases. The results showed that the efficiency level among cooperatives in the three phases ranges from 24% to 65%. Cooperatives operating under the beginning phase showed less stability in their mean efficiency score, while cooperatives in the developed phase showed more stability in their yearly mean efficiency scores. Moreover, most factors affecting cooperatives’ efficiency relate to managerial and entrepreneurial aspects. This finding implied that while farmers specialize in the technical skills of rubber farming, most of them still lack the managerial and entrepreneurial skills to operate. This study suggested stronger policy support for strengthening farmers’ managerial and entrepreneurial skills to achieve long-term improvement in the operational efficiency of rubber farmers’ cooperatives.