• Namfon Unthapanya

12 social categories: the social assessment framework by Fairagora Asia

In this article, we showcase and articulate how social metrics and human rights approaches are used in our projects at the farm level.

Figure 1: A quick snapshot of metrics


A support tool elaborated by experts


The assessment framework by Fairagora Asia was designed to support Fairagora when we are working on projects to deliver a better livelihood for farmers. The metrics help farmers manage their farms and the workers. These metrics help to discover and navigate the social topics, including various questions to the farmers and farmworkers to raise risks' awareness and propose solutions;


These 12 social categories were developed by the social expert group with various backgrounds from seafood sustainability, human rights, gender specialist, and business research. Those experts are listed in the table below.


Table 1: Name, organization, and position of the social experts

Name

Organization

Position

Alma Roman

DIA Group

​Responsable Sostenibilidad Grupo DIA/ Head of Sustainability

Pierig Vezin

​WethicA Health and Safety

CEO

Lea Esterhuisen

&Wider

Founder

Aarti Kaapor

Embode

Founder & CEO

Philip Hunter

IOM - UN Migration

Senior Labour Migration Specialist

Marika McAdam

Human rights at SEA

HRAS

Matthew Friedmann

Mekong Club

CEO

Daryll Delgado

​Vérité

Research and Stakeholder Engagement Programs Manager

Dr. Salin Krishna

Asia Institute of Technology

Professor at the Aquaculture and Aquatic Resources Management Department

Nisha Onta

WOCAN

Regional Coordinator for Asia Gender expert

Nicole Naurath

Google

Survey researcher at Google with more than a decade of experience in Asia

Matthew Johnson

TDH GERMANY

​Human Rights Researcher

Krysztof Dembek

The Centre for Social Impact Swinburne

Lecturer

There are 12 social metrics and a snapshot view of the 12 social categories is presented in the below diagram.


Figure 2: 12 social categories


 

How can the 12 social categories help farmers?


In Thailand, farming is family work, working of the people who live close to the farm. It is also the high intensive labor and demand to be outside under the heat. At various times of the year, farmers and workers grow different crops depending on the season and will repeat over the years. For small farms, most labor forces come from the same village. In sugarcane production in Thailand, there are at least 927,447 farmers involved. For sugarcane production, the most labor-intensive time is the cutting season from December to March.



Figure 3: The Sugarcane crop cycle



Fairagora Asia, USAID Thailand Counter Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) project, and Winrock International partner to uncover the risks using 12 social metrics to drive change, improve transparency, and promote good labor practices in the Thai sugarcane supply chain.


In this project, we work with processors, farm owners, farmworkers, farmer associations, professors, and government officials to map out risks under human rights and start a conversation to decrease those risks.



Figure 4: Online webinar, accessible here


 

Human rights at fieldwork: raising farmers’ awareness to drive change


In our of, the 12 social categories are articulated into questions we ask farmers. This is to bring farmers’ awareness of their working conditions. The typical questions we ask relate to all aspects of their work for example:

  • How much do you get paid?

  • Do you have workers from another country?

  • Do you have proper protective equipment?

  • Do children go to school?

  • Do you have proper housing?

  • What happens to workers who quit their job?

  • Which tasks are always performed by non-Thai workers?

  • Is overtime: [On a voluntary basis?]

  • Is overtime: [Paid]

  • Have you ever had issues with a worker in the following areas?

  • In which case would you reward workers?

  • If there are any hiring restrictions, please list them

  • Do Thai workers sign a written working agreement/contract?

  • Do non-Thai workers sign a written working agreement/contract?

  • Do you provide an advance payment to your workers?

  • How can workers pay for PPE if it is not provided for free?

  • Which accidents happened in the past 2 years?

These questions, integrated into a survey, are asked online. In addition, we also identify focus questions with these questions we conduct online interviews. With the online interview and online survey, we identify the mapping of risk under social circumstances on the farm. Then we conduct field trips to provide training and understand their practices around the social categories and information that is needed to increase their understanding of the social challenges.


Through the survey questions and the field trip discussions, farmers learned about minimum wage, safety use of protective equipment, child labor, and good living condition. It brought them knowledge and understanding of their rights.


Some findings from the project


We identified the result in a risk mapping with the questions and the answers. The risks were identified in 3 color: red is a high risk, orange is a medium risk and green is a low risk.


Table 2: Main findings

Red

Orange

Green

Health & Safety

Forced Labor

Non-discrimination and gender

Decent working hours

Decent workplace

Fair disciplinary procedure

Grievance mechanism

Workers' representation

Freedom of movement

Fair Remuneration

Child Labor

Fair recruitement


 

Social Risks at the farm level


Workers know about the existence of a minimum wage but they never knew that in their province the minimum wage is 320 THB. In the past, the daily wage was 150/200/250 THB. The payment varies depending on the type of work. Currently, workers usually receive 300 THB per day. We help workers to understand the minimum wage but they will not negotiate for more from the employer. Most of the time, farm owners/ employers help with food, transportation, water, housing, and ice as other accommodations. From our discussion, we found that workers are afraid to negotiate. They do not want to take the risk of having any conflicts with their employers. They are afraid that if they say too much then their employer would hire someone else.


In the worker housing camp at the sugarcane field. Every worker has to take a shower in the same area. In this area, it is an open area. Women and men would be showering at the same place and they may take a shower at the same time. This situation can be a cause leading to sexual assault creating an unsafe place for a woman working on the farm.


Figure 5: Toilets and showers on the farm for worker


There are health and safety concerns at the farm, for example, usually, the employer does not provide their workers with protective equipment when working with hazardous chemicals. The employee has to bring their gear. A worker told us that there was a time that he did not take a shower right after finishing the weeding job at the farm and when the weather is too hot he did not put on proper boots. This means that workers are not aware of the importance of protective equipment.


 

What is next?


There are not many organizations that engage with farmers and talk about social challenges. The 12 social metrics help with the framework and drive change to improve transparency at the farm level. We want to engage with other organizations to improve the conversation and empower the transparency of human rights in Thailand's sugarcane Industry. We want to provide free PPE, additional training, and workshop on the 12 social categories as well as how to mitigate risk in their productions. We have some farmers that we already work with, there are many more that we could not reach yet. Currently, we are using social media to advertise good practices. We are looking forward to working with other organizations, especially the government to make a bigger partnership in order to amplify our impact.



Figure 6: Pictures from our field trips, when we interviewed migrant workers