Teak: Are there opportunities for smallholder farmers to benefit from global market opportunities?

Our researcher Craig Johns attended the 2013 World Teak Conference in Thailand earlier this year. He shared his views on whether or not smallholder farmers in teak sector have opportunities to benefit from global market opportunities.

The general answer is definitely yes.


Teak is the ‘king’ of hardwood species and its superior durability attributes make it a favourite for the outdoor furniture and boat decking markets.

Demand for teak is constantly increasing while traditional forestry supply is constricting with only one country still able to export forestry teak in log form.

Commercial investors are planting teak in a variety of locations across the globe so why can’t local smallholder farmers cash in too?

Like anything in life, the devil is in the detail. The practicality of linking a commercial market driven chain together in a competitive and changing global market place is not as clear cut, which is why this conference was so insightful.

The 2013 World Teack Conference catered to a wide range of global teak stakeholders including not only researchers but also private sector investors, commercial teak buyers, primary processors and furniture and boat manufacturers. Subsequently, the topics covered were wide and varied and provided a healthy choice depending on your background and area of interest.

The conference program was broken into the following broad areas;

  • Genetics & Silviculture & Utilization
  • Environment & Climate Change & Carbon Trading
  • Economics & Investment
  • Rural Development

From a personal point of view, I found some of the market analysis the most interesting. The dominance of India as an importer and end consumer was clear. Teak has a long history in India and is imbedded in the national psyche. Consumers are passionate for a range of different teak products and the description given by some presenters of the structure and comparison between market segments was quite comprehensive. I also gained a good reality check on some of the supply constraints including how government policies are affecting the global industry and how private sector players are dealing with a range of issues right along the whole chain.

For more information, please contact Craig Johns at craig.johns[at]

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