INDIA: Child labour on the rise in cottonfields
More than 416,000 children under the age of 18, of whom almost
225,000 are younger than 14, are involved in child labour in India's
cottonseed production. Most of them are girls.
They work in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and
Tamil Nadu, which account for nearly 92 per cent of the cottonseed
production in the country.
A recent report titled 'Child bondage continues in Indian cotton
supply chain' reveals that the total number of working children in
cottonfields has risen over 2003-04.
The only state to see a decline in the rate of child labour under 14
is Andhra Pradesh (AP), which has received the most scrutiny from
the media, civil society and industry. Gujarat, which has the
largest area under cottonseed production in the country, accounts
for 1,75,260 (42 per cent) of the total children employed in this
Farmers employ children, particularly girls, in order to minimise
costs. The labour cost accounts for 50 per cent of the total cost of
The report has been published on behalf of the India Committee of
the Netherlands (ICN), International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF),
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Watch,
German Agro-Action and OneWorld Net NRW of Germany.
It is based on field research and has been written by Davuluri
Venkateswarlu, director of the Hyderabad-based Glocal Research and
According to the report, more than 13 Indian companies and two
multinationals, Monsanto and Bayer, are involved in this "modern
form of child slavery".
The biggest among the Indian seed companies, Nuziveedu, Raasi, Ankur
and Mahyco (a joint venture partner of Monsanto), make use of around
200,000 children who are employed by the farmers to whom they have
sub-contracted the cultivation of Bt cotton seeds.
According to Venkateswarlu, Bayer and Monsanto have acknowledged the
use of child labour on farms they have sub-contracted to farmers and
have initiated programmes to address the issue.
The study is based on the analysis of primary data collected through
field visits to 430 sample cottonseed farms in 78 villages in the
four states. Of the 430 farms surveyed, 280 are in AP, 60 in
Gujarat, 50 in Tamil Nadu and 40 in Karnataka.