Ratchaburi is well known for a major manufacturer of jars, plant pots, and ceramics for home and garden decoration. Most products are made from local clay, red- black clay, decorated with trademark dragon figure on the jar. Also, some manufacturers produce home and decoration products with mixing the clay from other provinces such as Suratthani, Ranong, Lam Pang, and Chiang Mai to create a variety in products and designs.
About the production sector of ceramic industry in Ratchaburi, there are 4-5 major water jar manufacturers in the province. 30 manufacturers of plant pots and garden decoration items are member of Ratchaburi Ceramics Ware Association. Both Thai and foreign workers operate the production process. Water jars and plant pots are made of the local clay, the forming shape step is a handmade method. The last step is jar heating, the jar will be putting in the brick stove called dragon stove that uses eucalyptus and rubber woods as fuel. Stove temperature control is relied by the long period professional experience. If the raw materials are mixed clay, machinery will be used in production methods, forming shape, molding, and burning in shuttle or tunnel stove that uses LPG gas as a fuel.
About the marketing, dragons jar and plant pots are made for both domestic selling and export. The major market for domestic selling is located in North East region. The export products will be distributed to nearby countries such as Cambodia and Laos where the demand in jars is continually growing. The demand relies on the farm products’ price. If farm’s products price is high the demand in jars will increase as well. About plant pots market, the products will be distributed by the merchants who buy pots from the factory and sell them all around the country. The important markets for plant pots are located in Jatujak market and Tevet market. About the export, the manufacturers don’t export their products by themselves, but products will be distributed to Asia countries, EU, USA, and Japan market by the agent. About ceramics ware for home and garden decoration, there are many factories produce ceramics ware for domestic sales and export, both local red clay and mixed clay. Some factories export their ceramics ware for 80% of their product capacity. Most exports focus on Japan, South Korea, EU, America, and Australia.
In 2009, Ratchaburi’s ceramics ware market, including home and decoration products both local clay and mixed clay products, were affected by world economic crisis which occur in worldwide and the country. The demand in ceramics ware has decreased by 30-40%. However, it has slightly recovered since early 2010. Especially dragon water jar and plant pot and gardening items, the demand has increased rapidly due to the drought situation. Besides, people begin paying attention for nature and environment and planting resulting in an increase in ceramics products.
There is no competitor for water jar export. But for plant pot and gardening ceramics ware, Vietnam is an arch competitor for Thailand since Vietnam has more production capacity for large products by using advanced method.
-Lack of workers. Manufacturers have to hire foreign workers. After nationality checking and visa and work permit application, foreign workers become legal and are allowed to travel all around Thailand. Hence foreign workers can supply Thai manufacturers easily. On the contrary, some workers who live in border area have disappeared from the labor market. They have no citizenship and are afraid that nationality checking will send them to Myanmar. Therefore they deny proving their nationality and cannot be legal worker.
-Making water jars and plant pots by dragon stove will use firewood as fuel which will cause smoke. The nearby residents are afraid of the air pollution. Even though the latest air pollution checking is not over than the standard level.
-Clay preparation is not good enough. It takes a long time in clay heating process, causing a huge loss in products. Especially a loss in Ratchaburi clay rate is 30%.
-Reserve clay source. Although the source is rich but some are the clay cannot be afforded because it belongs to the economic area. Therefore, the clay is expensive. It is possible that an inadequate of clay which is used as a raw material will happen in the future.
Reference: The Centre of Industrial Economics.