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FAO and ILO Teamed Up To Eradicate Child Labor In Agriculture

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Child Labor

FAO and ILO working together to stamp out child labor in agriculture






8 June 2016, Rome – FAO and the International Labor Organisation (ILO) are reaching out to agricultural professionals to raise awareness about the importance of child labor issues.

The two agencies launched a new e-learning course designed for use by agricultural policymakers, program designers and implementers, researchers and statisticians, to ensure that child labor prevention measures are included in agricultural and rural development programs, in particular those targeting poor smallholders. The course covers all sectors: crops, livestock, forestry, and fisheries and aquaculture.

Globally, nearly 60 percent of all child laborers  — almost 100 million girls and boys — work in agriculture. The worst forms of child labor include hazardous work that can harm their health and safety.

The agencies launched the course ahead of the UN’s World Day Against Child Labor, to be celebrated on 12 June.

Photo: ©FAO/Franco Mattioli

Towards zero child labor  

“To achieve zero hunger, we must also achieve zero child labor,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “Child labor is certainly a complex issue, and it cannot be tackled alone. We need strong partnerships, where everyone brings expertise and resources to the table,” he said in remarks made at an event in Rome marking the World Day Against Child Labor.

Agricultural policies and programs have a unique role to play in addressing the root causes of child labor, according to Graziano da Silva, and should be combined with adequate education systems that meet the needs of children and youth in rural areas. Together with social protection, and decent work policies for rural youth and adults, “we have the basic ingredients needed to end child labor in agriculture,” he added.

“Consumers rightly expect that the people who put food on their plates and clothes on their backs should not be child laborers or forced laborers,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in a statement read at the event on his behalf. “Rural children should expect to benefit from quality education and decent work opportunities in their communities.”

“Our e-learning course sends a clear message that it is imperative to end child labor in agriculture. This tool will help to build the capacity of agricultural stakeholders as well as labor stakeholders – and others – to fully engage where they can best contribute,” Ryder added.

Photo: ©FAO/Giampiero Diana

What is child labor?

Not all participation by children in agriculture is defined as child labor. Some involvement can be good – helping them to acquire knowledge and develop skills that will benefit them in the future.

However, when children work too many hours or are engaged in dangerous tasks or work that is not appropriate for their age and harmful to their health or education, this is child labor, and must be eliminated.

Good agricultural practices, new technologies can help

The new FAO-ILO course addresses the need to implement labor-saving technologies to reduce demand for child labor as well as safer agricultural practices to reduce hazardous working conditions.

Something so simple as properly training oxen used to plough can make a difference. In some places, where oxen are not well-trained, children are harnessed in front of them as guides.


In many countries, children are commonly engaged in weeding. Technologies and practices that save time required for weeding – systems of rice intensification using row planting combined with mechanical weeders, for example — can thus decrease the demand for child labor.

A new, energy-efficient fish-drying technology introduced in Africa, the FAO-Thiaroye oven, reduces exposure to harmful smoke, and requires less fuelwood, thereby reducing the demand for child labor for fuelwood collection.

The course was co-funded by the Government of the Netherlands. It is now available in English and will soon be available in French and Spanish.

{Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization-Media Relations}

[Photo credits-featured image: child harvesting rice – By IRRI Images [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]

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