India: Child Labour and underpayment of women in vegetable seed production, reports India Committee of Netherlands

Almost 156,000 Indian children are producing vegetable seeds (tomato, hot pepper, okra), of which 50,000 are below 14 years of age. The large majority of them are either Dalits, low caste or Adivasi (tribals). All of them are exposed to harsh working conditions, including poisonous pesticides and long working days....These are key findings from the new study Soiled Seeds - Child Labour and Underpayment of Women in Vegetable Seed Production in India...Another key finding from the report is that women are mostly not paid the official minimum wage for their work...Soiled Seeds again confirms previous studies that low procurement paid by companies to farmers have a strong impact on both child labour and the underpayment of women. Wages are higher in locations where procurement prices are higher...The initiatives undertaken by  Syngenta, Bayer, Monsanto, Advanta and Namdhari had – in varying degrees - a positive impact in reducing child labour at the seed farms. Recently – partly after the draft report was sent to companies - East-West Seed, Kalash Seeds, Nuziveedu, Limagrain, Sakata and Mahyco, also started interventions but given the short time-frame with still limited or unclear impact. [If any company named in the report would like to issue a response to the concerns raised, they are welcome to do so].

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Report
10 December 2015

Soiled seeds : child labour and underpayment of women in vegetable seed production in India

Author: India Committee of the Netherlands

Despite the decline, the total number of children still employed in the vegetable seed sector is huge. The conditions in the fields continue to be very unsafe and exploitative for the children. The children are made to work long hours and are paid less than market and official minimum wages. They are also exposed to poisonous pesticides used in high quantities in vegetable seed cultivation and are often trafficked as migrants from other places. The existing employment practices in cottonseed farms result in the denial of rights of children and violate many national laws and international conventions. 

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Article
29 November 2015

Response from East West Seeds

Author: East West Seeds

East-West Seed recognizes the issue of child labor in seed production in India and has taken steps…We fully support the mission of the India Committee of the Netherlands as we strive for the same goal: total elimination of child labor in India.

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