Child labour exploitation by tobacco farmers on the increase – CTPD survey

By Staff Reporter

TOBACCO farmers are increasingly exploiting child labour, according to a survey conducted by Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD).

In a statement, CTPD executive director Isaac Mwaipopo says his organization undertook a survey which revealed that 45.4% of tobacco farmers in four provinces in the country use child labour to produce the crop.

Mwaipopo said that the survey done on 220 farms in Central, Eastern, Southern and Western provinces, shows that a number of children are being used for cheap labour in the tobacco sector.

He noted that his organization is aware that the tobacco sector is informal and hence household labour was high.

Mwaipopo warned that Tobacco was a harmful product and children involved in its cultivation risk their health especially that more than 50% of the farmers hardly use any protective gear.

He observed that using children in tobacco production also lessens the chances of them getting educated as parents find it less economical to educate their children if they are considered to be cheap labour in the household production activities.

Mwaipopo has urged government to further investigate the extent to which children are engaged in the production of tobacco in the country.

“According to the World Health Organization, about 1.3 million children aged below 14 were working in tobacco fields in 2011 and, according to the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO), the numbers are rising with a shift in tobacco growing from the developed to the developing countries.” he said.

“Zambia’s labour laws stipulate that “a child between 13 and 15 years may be engaged in light work which is not likely to harm that child’s health or development; or which is not prejudicial to that child’s attendance at an institution of learning or participation in vocational orientation.” Therefore, engaging children in growing tobacco is in violation of the Employment Act and the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act, both due to health risks and reduced educational prospects”.