1218 GMT December 12, 2017
Of this total, 60 percent of child laborers — aged 5-17 years — work in agriculture, including farming, fishing, aquaculture, forestry, and livestock, ipsnews.net reported
This makes a total of around 100 million girls and boys used as a cheap or even unpaid work force.
The majority (67.5 percent) of these 152 million child laborers are unpaid family members. In agriculture, however, this percentage is higher, and is combined with very early entry into work, sometimes between five and seven years of age. Add to all this that about 59 percent of all children in hazardous work aged five–17 is in agriculture.
This scary data, elaborated by key specialized UN agencies, also shows that agriculture is one of the three most dangerous sectors in terms of work-related fatalities, non-fatal accidents and occupational diseases.
“Poverty is the main cause of child labor in agriculture, together with limited access to quality education, inadequate agricultural technology and access to adult labor, high hazards and risks, and traditional attitudes towards children’s participation in agricultural activities,” said the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Especially in the context of family farming, ILO added, small-scale fisheries and livestock husbandry, some participation of children in non-hazardous activities can be positive as it contributes to the inter-generational transfer of skills and children’s food security.
For its part, another major UN specialized agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), also underlines the fact that child labor is mostly found in agriculture, with a total of 108 million boys and girls engaged in child labor in farming, livestock, forestry, fishing or aquaculture, ‘often working long hours and facing occupational hazards’.
Child labor violates children’s rights, warned the Rome-based organization, adding that by endangering health and education of the young, it also forms an obstacle to sustainable agricultural development and food security.
According to FAO, child labor is defined as work that is inappropriate for a child’s age, affects children’s education, or is likely to harm their health, safety or morals.
It should be emphasized that not all work carried out by children is considered child labor. Some activities may help children acquire important livelihood skills and contribute to their survival and food security.
However, much of the work children do in agriculture is not age-appropriate, is likely to be hazardous or interferes with children’s education.
For instance, FAO explains that a child under the minimum age for employment who is hired to herd cattle, a child applying pesticides, and a child who works all night on a fishing boat and is too tired to go to school the next day would all be considered child labor.
Moreover, child labor perpetuates a cycle of poverty for the children involved, their families and communities. Without education, these boys and girls are likely to remain poor.
“The prevalence of child labor in agriculture violates the principles of decent work. By perpetuating poverty, it undermines efforts to reach sustainable food security and end hunger.”
The shocking reality has been put before the eyes of 1,500 participants from 193 countries in the IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labor in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 14-16 November, aiming at addressing the consolidation of the global commitment to the eradication of child labor, ILO informed.
The Conference is intended to focus on child labor from different perspectives: Public policies, legal framework and tools available to disseminate and manage the information, as well as the children’s schooling, the school-to-work transition for youth, and how to ensure healthy working conditions for them.
With agriculture one of the major activities involving child labor, FAO works with partners to address the root causes of child labor, in particular with ILO and other major UN and international through the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labor in Agriculture International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labor in Agriculture, which was established in 2007.