Child labor in agriculture

In many countries child labour is mainly an agricultural issue. Worldwide 60% of all child labourers are in the 5-7 age group work in agriculture, which includes farming, fishing, aquaculture, forestry, and livestock. This amounts to over 129 million girls and boys. The majority (67.5%) of child labourers are unpaid family members.

In agriculture this percentage is higher, and is combined with very early entry into work, sometimes between 5 and 7 years of age. Agriculture is one of the three most dangerous sectors in terms of work-related fatalities, non-fatal accidents and occupational diseases. About 59%(or 70 million) of all children in hazardous work aged 5–17 are found in agriculture.

Poverty is the main cause of child labour in agriculture, together with limited access to quality education, inadequate agricultural technology and access to adult labour, high hazards and risks, and traditional attitudes towards children's participation in agricultural activities.

Participation in some agricultural activities is not always child labour. Age-appropriate tasks that are of lower risk and do not interfere with a child's schooling and leisure time can be a normal part of growing up in a rural environment. Especially in the context of family farming, small-scale fisheries and livestock husbandry, some participation of children in non-hazardous activities can be positive as it contributes to the inter-generational transfer of technical and social skills and children's food security.

Improved self-confidence, self-esteem and work skills are attributes often detected in young people engaged in some aspects of farm work. Therefore it is important to distinguish between light duties that do no harm to the child and child labour, which is work that interferes with compulsory schooling and damages health and personal development, based on hours and conditions of work, the child's age, the activities performed and hazards involved.

For more information: http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/Agriculture/lang--en/index.htm

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