Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

FAO’s Child Labour in Agriculture Prevention team, Rome, Italy

Regarding the fourth objective that focuses on human health impacts, it is also essential that the Code of Conduct adequately considers the health of all workers, including children.

Today, 71% of all child labour occurs in the agricultural sector. In Africa alone, over 72 million children are engaged in child labour, 32 million of which is hazardous work. Beyond the numbers of children engaged in child labour, many more are also working in agriculture or helping their families on the farm. The prevalence of children engaged in agricultural activities and on farms should be considered when designing responsible systems of fertilizer management.

Depending on the context, fertilizer application has the potential to create hazardous situations of child labour. This may include carrying heavy loads, excessive working hours or manually handling some chemicals that cause irritation. Unfortunately, child labour is often a hidden phenomenon, which is why the promotion of certain production systems and employment initiatives should remain child labour sensitive.

As part of SDG 8.7, it is essential that we focus on child labour prevention in agriculture. Child labour also affects our ability to reach SDGs 1 and 2 on eliminating poverty and hunger; children engaged in child labour risk their healthy development and are less likely to become educated and access gainful, decent employment as youth or adults. They can easily become trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and low productivity with negative repercussions for the development and food security of rural communities.