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16 Jun 2023

ETI Sweden

Sudan: New study finds high risk of child & forced labour in production of sesame seeds used in tahini & hummus sold on Swedish market

Sesame seeds in Sudan: new report and stakeholder collaboration, 16 June 2023

A new study, the first of its kind, takes a deep dive into the human rights situation in the production of sesame seeds from Sudan used in tahini and hummus sold on the Swedish market. The results in the report show high risks of child and forced labor. ETI Sweden is now mobilizing stakeholders to work together to jointly prevent and limit violations and improve conditions for sesame seed farmers in Sudan...

After years of conflict, Sudan is one of the continent’s poorest countries, yet it is the world’s largest producer of sesame seeds. The majority of sesame seeds in tahini or hummus sold on the Swedish market come from Sudan. Therefore, ETI Sweden chose to conduct a risk analysis of sesame seeds from Sudan. The initiative came from ETI Sweden members Axfood, Coop and Sevan who first raised the issue. The report is the first of its kind and shows several serious risks for human rights violations in the supply chain of sesame seeds in Sudan.

Cultivation mostly takes place at a small scale and farmers often receive low compensation for their harvest, while most of the profits go to several intermediaries. Many workers in the production are migrant workers who work during the harvest season, which makes them particularly vulnerable. For Swedish companies using products with sesame seeds from Sudan, it is currently very difficult to achieve traceability all the way to the farm and to ensure good working conditions. The ongoing conflict in Sudan makes it even more difficult to monitor the situation...

ETI Sweden and its members have developed a number of recommendations on how stakeholders should act in this difficult situation and have agreed to work together to achieve a trade in sesame seeds that benefits farmers and workers in the supply chain. Among other things, companies should map their supply chains, investigate actual and potential negative impacts on human conflict, if possible conduct an on-site risk analysis in Sudan, and investigate risks related to alternative countries of origin. Changing and improving the living and working conditions of sesame farmers in Sudan will require strong cooperation between companies, states, authorities, civil society and other relevant actors. Therefore, ETI Sweden will mobilize and invite the industry for a meeting later in 2023...