Instead of going to school or playing with their friends, over 129 million children worldwide, between the ages of five and 17, are working within the very supply chains that provide us with the multitude of products that we consume daily, and more often than not, they are working in hazardous conditions.
For children, the agricultural sector is one of the most dangerous sectors in terms of work-related fatalities, dangerous accidents and occupational disease. What’s more, forced labor deprives these children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity. Read on with the list below for an introductory look at the shocking ways child labor is still used in food production.
1. Children are subjected to dangerous conditions when harvesting fruit
Climbing trees to harvest fruit and collect honey from beehives is commonplace for children working in the agriculture sector, but this type of work can result in a plethora of health and safety hazards including falling from ladders, cuts, wounds, exposure to extreme temperatures and weather conditions, exposure to harmful chemical substances, and skin diseases.
2. The agriculture industry exposes children to hazardous pesticides
The majority of farm work can be hazardous in nature leaving children at risk. Child labor in farming involves preparation of land, planting seedlings, weeding, applying inorganic fertilizers, spraying pesticides, harvesting and processing crops, all of which exposes children to toxic agrochemicals that can lead to a range of health problems.
3. Off-shore fishing sites force children to live in cramped and unhygienic conditions
Child laborers involved in fishing and aquaculture have to engage in physically demanding work which is carried out for long working hours and in precarious conditions. Those working in off-shore fishing sites often live in cramped conditions with low levels of hygiene and poor facilities.
4. Cattle herding is almost entirely done by children
In certain ethnic groups, cattle herding is almost always done by children. This kind of work forces children to spend many months in remote and isolated areas tending to animals and undergoing heavy manual labor, prohibiting them from attending school and exposing them to numerous livestock-related health hazards.
5. Two-thirds of child laborers are unpaid
About 129 million boys and girls between the ages of five and 17 are working in the agricultural sector worldwide, and a shocking 67.5 percent of these child laborers are unpaid family members.
What you can do to help
Child labor is a problem that we all need to address. In the U.S alone ,an estimated 500,000 children are working in the fields, with millions more being forced to work around the globe. Help stop child labor by making conscious buying choices and getting involved with the following organizations that are currently taking action to end this injustice.
- Food Empowerment Project
- End Child Labor
- International Labour Organization
- Fair Food International
- Global March Against Child Labor
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons