Forum global sur la sécurité alimentaire et la nutrition (Forum FSN)

Ending Child Labour in Agriculture with the Help of Agricultural Stakeholders

Childhood, simply the stage between birth and puberty, is not the condition of well developed physically as well as mentally. They are physically weak with developing the organs of their bodies slowly. The fragile organs are not ready to perform the hard works inside or outside of the home. On the other hand the stage of childhood is inclined to playing and entertaining with their parents, friends or with their kin. They want to enjoy in playing the games that give good results ultimately for the overall development of the children. Accordingly, doing formal study in the pedagogies or in the homes according to the ages is another task of the children.   

With this background of the childhood it has to be justified to eliminate the child labour from the agriculture sector at this moment. Actually, the authorized agencies are trying to prohibit or to ending the involvement of the child from any sector may be agriculture, industry, transportation, or even the sexualities. In this regard, agriculture is one of the highly sensitive sector where the possibilities of child labour seems to be high. They have been mobilised in this sector voluntarily as well as obligatorily too.  It could be happened actually due to three reasons. The first one is - by voluntarily where the family members do not deny the involvement of the children in the pretext of enjoying by their children in the agricultural activities together with them. The second one is that the family members automatically mobilized their children in agriculture farming because of lacking of needed labourers for the work. The third one is that child labour is comparatively cheaper than the labour of the seniors may be man or woman.  It should not be paid full wages to them as paid to their seniors including fathers / mothers. Therefore, the community people or any other organizations / companies want to mobilize the children in some soft type of activities which could be performed by them without hard labour.

Now we have to identify the actual stakeholders of the agriculture before going to discuss about their roles regarding the child labour. First of all family members or the households are the prime stakeholders of agriculture followed by neighbouring / farmers, private or public organizations / companies (food producing / supplier, distributors, and marketing of the products ), NGOs/ CBOs,  political parties, and the government formed at different levels depending upon the country.

Following measures are recommended to eliminate or to ending the child labour with the help of those stakeholders of the agriculture as mentioned above:

1. Government: The ruling government has hole sole authority for execution of law and order in the country. It can address the issues of child labour in the process of ending it from the country. In this respect the government, in coordination with other stakeholders of the country, has to incorporate the provision of ending of child labour in the constitution or acts of the country, and to be implemented the rule and regulations regarding the child labour accordingly.

2. Political parties: Political parties and the parliamentarians are considered as the stakeholders of the agriculture sector since they can make the plan and policy of the country as per the needs of the people.  Hence, they can support to prepare the plan and policy about the ending of the child labour of the country with a consensus among the political parties / parliamentarians / government and none government agencies, and any other sectors as needed.

3. Private and Public Organizations /Companies: It should be prohibited for the participation of the children as the labourers in the private or public companies involved in the process of farming of the crops, or producing different types of foods with the purpose of marketing. Eventually, they want to hire more and more children for some soft type of activities in the companies because of low rate of wages for the children. It is recommended to stop the deployment of children in such organizations or companies by the authorized agencies of the country.

4. NGOs / CBOs: The non government or community based organizations working in agriculture sector should be very conscious of child labour. Therefore, they should ask and follow up of their clients / stakeholders for not accepting the child labour in their works.

5. Neighbouring / Relatives: There is high possibilities of involvement of the children in agricultural works mobilizing by the neighbours or relatives who are very close to the households specially in the rural areas of developing countries from Asia and Africa. It could be happened due to two reasons. The first one is that some of the children do not go to school because of lacking of money with their guardians. So the children are spending their days in vain in the households. The second one is that the children are not allowed to go to school in the pretext of caring of the children as well as of the livestock in the households. Therefore, the neighbours or the relatives request to the households to send their children specially at the time of cultivation as well as harvesting or even at the time of weeding of the crops.

Therefore, it is recommended to make aware to the households about the drawbacks of the child labour. Accordingly, there should be established a common understanding among  the households and neighbours for not mobilizing the children in agricultural jobs.  

Besides, the other important recommendation is that there should be applied the  practice of exchanging of labour (known as Parma in Nepali ) at the time of farming  from one household to another household in the settlement which is very popular in some parts of Nepal.

6. Family / Household: Actually the child labour is originated from the family / households. They do not allow their children to go to schools rather send to the jobs either in agriculture farming or in any other jobs to earn money for their subsistence. It is a very miserable fact that thousands of families / households do not have money to send to the children in the schools. In this respect, ending of the child labour has become only publicity for the policy makers or for the researchers. The agriculture sector including the livestock is considered as one of the highest sectors of exploitation of the children in various countries mainly in the third world.

To address the alarming situation of such households in respect of child labour it is recommended to provide some incentives by the government to the households having the potential children for labour works. They can be awarded by cash, or kinds like school dress, books and copies or even to provide some material supports to those parents who send their children to the school. In this respect, cash transfer is one of the supportive tools for ending the child labour.