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. 

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