Minister decries child labour in agriculture

DAR ES SALAAM: MINISTER of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Labour, Youth, Employment and Persons with Disability), Prof Joyce Ndalichako has called on the farming community to stop employing children in farming activities.

She said the practice significantly lessens the value of their produce in the global market, affecting their competitiveness and overall economic gains.

Ndalichako made that statement during the launch of the ‘Decent Work in Cotton Sector’ project held in Dar es Salaam.

She pointed out that recent statistics indicate child labour in the country has reached 24.9 per cent, with the agriculture sector being the leading employer of children.

“This is because farming primarily occurs in rural areas, where farmers often utilise their children as labour to reduce operational costs, consequently diminishing the value of their produce in the global market,” she said.

She added that “the initiative is expected to strengthen adherence to labour standards, promote safety and health and protect children’s rights within the cotton sector in Tanzania.”

Ndalichako expressed hope that the project, along with other initiatives, would enhance women and children’s well-being in the cotton farming communities.

“The project is budgeted at approximately 558,170 US dollars and is set to be implemented over a 24-month period from its launch date,” she expressed.

Ndalichako commended the government of Brazil and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for facilitating the availability of funding for the important project, which is a result of the strong collaboration between Tanzanian and Brazilian governments.

“The project is intended to promote decent work in the cotton value chain and safeguard children’s rights. It is set to be carried out in the Meatu District, located in Simiyu Region, which is the leading cotton-producing region in Tanzania,” she explained.

Ndalichako urged that, “the effective implementation of the project, especially in Meatu District is to ensure its success and pave the way for improvements in other major cotton-producing areas,”

The government anticipates that the project will enhance the institutional capacity to eradicate child labour and improve child protection, including the establishment of a National Plan of Action against Child Labour.

It is also expected to improve compliance with labour standards within the cotton value chain.

For his part, the Ambassador of Brazil to Tanzania, Gustavo Naguera noted that the project is collaboration between Brazil, Tanzania and the International Labour Organisation, focusing on creating conducive work environments for cotton farmers.

“These efforts are expected to enhance children’s lives by affording them access to quality education and protecting their rights. The project aims to establish a sustainable and responsible cotton value chain that generates decent employment opportunities and contributes to community development,”

“Through this project, we anticipate having a generation of children who are not burdened with the hardships of labour but are directed towards receiving an education that empowers them to recognise their potential and become architects of their own destinies,” Naguera stated.

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