Migrants in Agriculture


While increasing numbers of migrants from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) are employed in the agriculture sector in Thailand and destination countries outside the region, the present understanding of this group of workers remains limited, in part owing to difficulties gaining access to migrant agricultural workers in geographically remote locations. Migrants’ isolation in hard-to-reach worksites fosters social exclusion and creates access barriers to healthcare, education, governmental services, and the support of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community groups. Furthermore, experiences of mistreatment, abuse, and poor working conditions (such as inadequate occupational health and safety measures) are not uncommon in the sector. 

A migrant worker at a rubber plantation in Surat Thani, Thailand (Photo: Raks Thai Foundation)

MMN believes there is an urgent need to improve working and living conditions of agricultural workers who are left unprotected despite their significant contributions to the economy and society of their destination country. We continue to call for the full and equal protection of all agricultural workers, including migrants, under relevant national labour laws.

As part of an effort to better understand the experiences of migrant agricultural workers, MMN conducted a collaborative research project between 2017 and 2019 focused on the living and working conditions of migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar employed in Thailand’s agricultural sector. By bringing together migrant workers with representatives of the Thai government, governments of countries of origin, and NGOs at multi-stakeholder meetings, MMN brought attention to pressing issues in the agricultural sector and ensured that migrant workers have the opportunity to have their voices heard by policy makers. 

Related Initiatives

As part of our mandate, MMN regularly facilitates discussion amongst our member organisations and partners to identify issues of concern currently facing migrant workers and their families. In particular, we seek to focus on issues that, for whatever reason, may have been overlooked, under-researched or are otherwise in need of greater outreach and advocacy. The exploitation of migrants employed in Thailand’s large agricultural sector is such an issue.

While MMN’s previous work has touched upon some of the problems faced by migrants in this sector, including low pay, lack of legal protection, and lax occupational health and safety, MMN members agreed that a more targeted investigation was necessary to better understand the needs of migrants in agriculture and identify appropriate responses…

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The idea for From our Eyes: Migrant Reflection was born at the workshop on Migration Trends and Responses in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and Beyond, held on 31 August 2010 in Chiang Mai, and co-organised by MMN, MAP Foundation, and the Asian Migrant Centre. At the workshop, two migrant worker leaders presented on the impacts of policy changes on migrant lives. Their reflections were insightful and informative, and highlighted the largely untapped value of migrant contributions to policy making.

Inspired by the presentations of the migrant leaders, MMN, in collaboration with members of the migrant community, decided to conduct this initiative to record further analyses and perspectives of migrants on changes over the past decade…

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Resource Hub

Flipbook on Migrants in Agriculture

Read our flipbook to learn more about the conditions of migrants in Thailand's agriculture sector and the challenges they face.

Video on Migrants Working on Cassava Plantations in Thailand

Join us on a visit to a cassava plantation in Mae Sot, Thailand, and hear from migrants about some of the challenges they face in their work and daily lives.