FAO in Pakistan

FAO marks world day against child labour by promoting prevention and reduction of child labour in the agriculture sector


Islamabad – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today marked the World Day Against Child Labour stressing on the need to include child labour prevention in agriculture and food security programmes, policies and strategies.

At a ‘COVID-19: Population, food security and child labour’ webinar organized by the Development Communications Network (Devcom_Pakistan), technical experts from FAO underscored the need to address the root causes of child labour, such as rural poverty and lack of social protection.

We need more data on the involvement of children in harmful tasks in the different sub-sectors of agriculture to help agricultural programmes and stakeholders take action. The COVID-19 and the locust invasion will have very detrimental effects on farmers, which is likely to exacerbate the number of children in child labour. Agricultural stakeholders, including small-holders, can play a positive role in eliminating child labour in agriculture but we need to involve them,” said Ariane Genthon, Programme Officer (child labour in agriculture).

Dr. Shakeel Ahmed Khan, Expert Child Labour in Agriculture Sector, FAO and Lubna Tajik, Social Safeguards and Risk Mitigation Specialist, FAO also highlighted the critical role of agriculture stakeholders in ending child labour in domestic supply chains.

“Some 71% of child labour is found in the agriculture sector worldwide. In Pakistan, FAO is raising awareness to ensure prevention of child labor and protection of children from the harmful impacts of pesticides in the cotton value chain, in collaboration with ILO, on decent work agenda,” said Mina Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan in relation with the world day against child labour.

Worldwide, majority of child labour is found in the agriculture sector. Today, 108 million boys and girls are engaged in child labour in crop production, livestock, forestry, fisheries or aquaculture, often working long hours and facing occupational hazards. Child labour violates the rights of children. By endangering the health and education of the young, it also forms an obstacle to sustainable agriculture development and food security.

COVID-19 pandemic presents an additional and highly distressing concern for the potential impact on child labour in agriculture. With the spread of COVID-19, a significant number of children could be pushed into child labour as a negative coping mechanism in the face of food insecurity, labour shortage in agriculture, livelihoods deterioration and limited or no access to school.

In Pakistan, FAO in close collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) is implementing activities contributing towards the Clear Cotton Project. FAO is actively engaged towards raising awareness and promoting action amongst farmer groups and associations to tackle child labour in agriculture. To this end, a number of awareness workshops have been organized to promote integration of measures on child labour prevention into larger programmes such as food security, land tenure and climate change adaptation.