EXCERPT: Two separate studies conducted recently held that multinationals like Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta and Indian companies like Nuziveedu Seeds, Raasi Seeds and Ankur Seeds as responsible for the situation [extensive use of child labour].
Child labour rampant in AP cotton farms: report
ASHOK B SHARMA
Posted online : Friday, November 25, 2005
NEW DELHI, NOV 24: Production of cotton seeds has become problematic with recent studies revealing extensive use of child labour. Two separate studies conducted recently held that multinationals like Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta and Indian companies like Nuziveedu Seeds, Raasi Seeds and Ankur Seeds as responsible for the situation.
These companies are paying farmers about 40% which is too little to hire adults against local minimum wage of Rs 52 per day. The farmers working for these companies, therefore, hire children and young people aged below 18 years.
At least 1,00,000 of them work 13 hours a day in cotton seed production in Andhra Pradesh for less than half a euro per day. They are often bound by loans given to their parentsâ, said the report âThe Price of Childhoodâ released by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), the International Labor Rights Fund of US and Eine Welt Netz NRW (OneWorld Net Germany).
The authors of the report, independent Indian researcher Dr Davuluri Venkateswarlu and British agricultural economist Lucia da Corta from Oxford University, are holding the view that the seed companies are responsible for large-scale child labour and for evading Indiaâs minimum wage laws.
Another recent report entitled âElimination of Child Labour in Cotton Seed Farms through Social Mobilisation' of the MV Foundation said that 11 children in Andhra have died and 3 were severely injured due to accidents caused while travelling to work and due to inhalation of pesticides working in the fields. Many children have health problems like headaches, vomiting and depression. Often they don't have access to medical aid.
The studies clearly show that farmers would have a net loss if they would hire adults at the local minimum wage instead of children and teenagers. That is by far not the case for the companies. The market prices of one kilogram of cotton seed is 3.6 up to 12.1 times as high as the procurement price paid to the farmer! If companies would pay for the substitution of child labour for adult labour (against minimum wages) it would cost them between 4.2% and 21.3% of their profit. If paid by the consumers the seed would cost 3.2% to 10.9% more.
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