Migration & Agriculture in Thailand

In Thailand, migration (both domestic and international) is common. The main destinations are urban centers and the coast, East Asia and Israel. Primarily youth are migrating, often with higher education and access to information about recruitment opportunities.  

The drivers of migration are low agricultural productivity, lack of arable land, the breakdown of traditional natural resources management and soil degradation. Consequences include demographic changes, such as contributing to labor shortages and the ageing of society accelerated by selective migration. 

The Raks Thai Foundation in Thailand implements the project with the University of Vienna, Austria. 

Research FocusStudy SitesCovid-19 & Migration

The Thailand team focuses its research on three main issues:  

  • Relationships between migration and social-environmental changes in the areas of origin 
  • Effects of migration in both areas of origin and destination 
  • Interactions of different sectoral policy measures and ways to shape policy to improve livelihoods in the areas of origin, as well as enhance the positive and mitigate the negative effects of migration 

Site 1: Ban Chai Sub-district, Ban Dung District, Udon Thani Province 

Site 2: Mae Suek Sub-district, Mae Chaem District, Chiangmai Province 

In response to Covid-19, most migrants from Thailand returned home. However, there are many unemployed (internal) workers in the country who are still looking for an opportunity to work abroad, particularly in South Korea, after the pandemic situation improves.  

As lockdowns and social distancing emerged, the government established limited quotas for entry into Thailand, leading to significant illegal entries, especially between Thailand and Malaysia. Yet, at the government level, there is currently increased emphasis on increasing legal pathways to migration. 

Economic disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic in Thailand have affected the tourism, production and export sectors and supply chains. Thailand’s security system covers formal workers who have lost their jobs, but offers no protections for the 20.4 million informal workers in the country (just over half of all workers), many of whom are migrants 

The Thailand team is maintaining communication with local migration governance working groups. This has taken the form of phone interviews with returnees in Udonthani province and a short survey to demonstrate the migration database in Mae Chaem, Chiangmai province containing questions on COVID-19 impact and responses. In addition, the Thailand team has reviewed the country’s policies in response to the impact of Covid-19 on Thai migrants. The team will include questions on the Covid-19 impacts in a survey carried out in the Udon Thani region. For more information, see the blog post: Staying or Coming Back Home: The Consequences of COVID-19 for Thai Migrants and Households’ Ability to Respond to Climate Change 

Country Team Members

Sopon Naruchaikusol, Project ManagerRaks Thai FoundationThailand 

Boonthida Ketsomboon, Environmental Program Manager, Raks Thai Foundation, Thailand  


Harald Sterly, Senior Scientist, Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna, Austria 


Raffaella Pagogna, 

University Assistant (Prae-doc), Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna, Austria

Patrick Sakdapolrak, Professor for Population Geography and Demography, University of Vienna, Austria





Raks Thai Foundation  

Raks Thai Foundation is a civil society leader, empowering people to determine their own destiny and pursue sustainable development. 

Raks Thai advocates for policies that can help improve livelihoods in the areas of origin, and enhance the positive while mitigating the negative effects of migration. Policy advocacy focuses on including migrants in climate change adaptation planning, introducing migrants rights into national policies and changing negative attitudes towards migrants through awareness raising. 

Contact details: 

Raks Thai Foundation 

185 Soi Pradipat 6, Pradipat Rd., Samsennai, Phayathai, Bangkok, 10400 

 +66(2)-089-0680 ext. 33 

University of Vienna  

The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. The Department of Geography and Regional Research (IfGR) at the University of Vienna (UNIVIE) covers diverse research clusters, including geomorphology, geo-ecology, cartography, applied geography, economic geography and population geography. 

Contact Point: 

Boonthida Ketsomboon, Program Manager (Environment), Raks Thai Foundation, Thailand 

Sopon Naruchaikusol, Project ManagerRaks Thai Foundation, Thailand 


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