Round Table for Combating Child Labour in Hybrid Seed Industry

Organized by: M.V. Foundation (MVF), 19-2-2011, Hyderabad.

MVF is known for prevention of Child labour in various sectors. Since two years, AOFG India and MVF are working for its implementation of a child labour free hybrid cotton seed project -though not in an official way. Participants for teh roundtable were; Dr. Davuluri Venkateswarlu (Glocal Research), Dr.G.Venkat Raman (AOFG India), Dr. Donti Narsimha Reddy(Chetana Society), Ms.Sudha Mullapudi (Traid craft),  Mr. Murali ( UNICEF), Narsimha Reddy ( CARE), Mr.Anjaiah (NGO), Mr. Srinavas rao ( Child Rights Forum, Chairman) and other NGO representatives.

Mr. Venkat Reddy, National Convener, MVF, gave a presentation about the need to lobby the seed industry who are meeting on 22 and 23 February in Hyderabad.

Dr. Davuluri Venkateswarlu presented how child labour in hybrid seed industry has been shifted to Gujarat state, labour force involved in cotton seed fields, wage disparities, work hours, impact on health and education.

Dr. Narsimha Reddy shared his opinion on legal procedures and stressed the importance of the upcoming seed bill-2010. He circulated a draft copy of the bill.

Mr. Murali (UNICEF) expressed that, it is very difficult to tackle the powerful seed companies. The best way is to use the benefits of Right for Education act. But it is not yet finalized. Once it is in operation, every child should be in the school.  There are many contradicting opinions on this act; children are on roll while going to fields, parents to be educated, seed companies should have a self regulatory mechanism.

One interesting point raised is that wherever child labour prevention protests and welfare activities are going on, Govt. education schemes are implemented, there is decrease in child labour, but the seed production activities are shifted to remote tribal areas. Another great change in seed production activities is that, earlier seed production was done in large acreage with big farmers, but now it has been shifted to small family based farms.

From AOFG India cotton Project we are promoting organic cotton to ethical and fair trade brands, for which we need to maintain child labour free conditions across ALL the value chain. The seed used by our organic farmers is produced by commercial seed companies, by using child labour. All organic farmer groups require Child labour free hybrid cotton seed, and to meet this demand, we have initiated a project on seed production. We are also collecting data of existing child labour in our organic villages for their welfare and education. In a recently held workshop, our farmer leaders have taken a decision to allocate some Fair trade premium for child labour welfare activities.

The round table has decided to represent AP Government to consider following demands;

  • implement strictly Right to Education act,
  • amend child labour prevention act-1986,
  • file cases against seed companies who are indulging in child labour,
  • collect data of below 18 years age children,
  • rehabilitate the working children with bridge schools.

Round table made a resolution that this meeting should form as a forum and write a letter to seed companies to prevent child labour. Mr. Venkat Reddy has presented round table deliberations before Prof. C. Nageswar. He made an assurance that he would raise this issue in question hour of Andhra Pradesh Assembly, requesting to allocate one day for discussion.  Further he ascertained that we need to organize rally with child labour in Hyderabad.

The round table also formed a delegation to visit the Indian Seed congress, where all seed company people are meeting Seed companies should take a policy decision not to take child labour in seed fields. The same policy should be applied to seed organizers and sub-contractors. They should be in a committee at village level with Gram Sarpanch, civil servants, community based organizations, child rights activists. Seed companies should disclose list of labour working in their fields by indicating, age, sex, education background.

On 22nd February, 2011 the delegation lead by, M.V. Foundation has given a letter to India seed Congress, Hyderabad. The seed congress is opened by Andhra Pradesh Governor, Sri E.L. Narsimhan, presided over by Agriculture minister, Vivekananda Reddy.

The same delegation will meet again at appropriate time to take necessary steps to combat child labour in seed fields. For more information contact: info@zameen.org

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