Fellow Since 2012
Contract Farmers' Network
This profile was prepared when Ubon Yoowah was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Millions of small-scale farmers produce food under contract for less than ten companies who virtually determine the conditions of farming in Thailand. This process, known as contract farming, involves the production of food for companies based on terms and prices set in a contract, in this case a contract written by the purchasing company. Ubon has established the national Contract Farmers Network as a mechanism to redefine contract farming as an equal partnership between companies and the farmers who sell to these companies. The network has generated unprecedented information exchange among contract farmers across production lines: poultry, hog, caged fish, sugar cane, and corn. Ubon has encouraged contract farmers, previously fearful of their buying companies, to reveal hazards of contract farming to other farmers as well as consumers, resulting in collaboration between contract farmers, consumers, legal, and health professionals. Ubon is setting up a regulatory system to ensure fair contracts, with representation from contract farmers. He is also working with contract farmers, health professionals, and consumer advocates to set standards for food safety, by eliminating the use of hazardous agrochemicals and raising the quality standards of other farm inputs. As a long-term alternative for contract farmers, Ubon has established Safe Food Markets that encourage diversified organic production, enabling contract farmers to establish alternative supply chains and independent farms, toward full economic citizenship. Unlike previous attempts to improve farming conditions in Thailand, Ubon’s work tackles the majority of food producers in the contract farming system and is improving the health of both producers and consumers across Thailand.