SEVANA at the 13th Conference on Thai Studies

The Thai sugar Industry has now gone to the neighboring country. In 2006 and 2008, the two major Thai sugar companies, Khon Kaen Sugar Ltd. and Mitr Phol group had invested in Cambodia and Lao PDR. In Cambodia, both companies awarded almost 20,000 hectares of land each, under an Economic Land Concession (ELC) scheme. Their investment in Koh Kong and Oddor Meanchey Province had become the major complaint and the first investigation crossing border ever of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, and Southeast Asia. The NHRC's reports of both cases come out in 2015, states that the companies need to take responsibility to the people, those suffering from the land and livelihood loss, forced eviction and violation occurred to them. NHRC also recommended to the Thai government to set up the proper regulations and process to monitor the Thai investment abroad.


Project SEVANA organized the panel "Migrant workers as a consequence of land grab: Change of lives and communities, and potential impacts to the region” (Cases of Cambodia migrant workers relocated from sugar cane plantation areas in Oddor Meanchey Province)" at the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies  in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand on 18th July 2017, to discusses the content related to the testimony of local people those being evicted in 2009 from O’Bat Moan community in Oddor Meanchey Province, to make ways for the sugarcane plantation of Mitr Phol company. Mitr Phol pulled out their investment from Cambodia in 2015, but yet, the government still do not give the land back to people.


The panel discussion based on the research conducted by Project SEVANA South-East Asia and their alliances both in Cambodia and Thailand in 2016, focusing on the changing livelihood after the land and forest loss and the new livelihood as migrant workers for the village people those flee to work in Thailand since an eviction occurred. The panel discusses the ‘gaps’ within and among different actors those contribute to created such scenario and conflicts. The analysis of different actors including ASEAN, with its extremely support to the economic integration and Foreign Direct Investment among the business in the region is also discussed.

The three panelists of this panel are; Mr. Ubon Yoowah of Alternative Agriculture Network, Mr. Siwawong Suktawee, the coordinator of the Migrant Working Group (MWG), Thailand, and Ms. Premrudee Daoroung, the founder and Coordinator of Project SEVANA South-East Asia.

Along with the panel, Project SEVANA was honored to also display the set of photographs related to the land issue of Mr. Jonas Gratzer, the Swedish photographer who was named Photographer of the Year by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand in 2015.


The land grabbing both in urban and rural areas in Cambodia has been recognized internationally as the main obstacle to the country’s development for the well-being of its people. While the land in urban areas, including the middle of Phnom Penh, has been the target for the large-scale investment, since 2008, it was recorded that 2.6 million hectares – or 76 % of the country’s arable land – were passed from the hands of farmers to those of agricultural companies, in order to export essentially sugar and rubber.