Child bondage continues in Indian cotton supply chain

Child bondage continues in Indian cotton supply chain

Is child labour in India’s cottonseed farms on the increase?

This document analyses the trends in child employment within the Indian cotton supply chain. It particularly aims to examine the current situation regarding child labour in hybrid cottonseed farms in the four Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamilnadu and Karnataka.

The authors find that recent trends in employment of child labour in hybrid cottonseed production in different states in India clearly indicate that the overall number of children employed in this sector is on the rise. The conditions in the fields continue to be very unsafe and exploitative for the children. The children are made to work long hours and are paid less than market and official minimum wages.

Key concluding remarks include:

  • the response of state and central governments to address the problem of child labour in this sector has not been very encouraging
  • the number of cases booked by the labour department on cottonseed growers for employing children has drastically decreased during the last three years
  • the issue of child labour in cottonseed production has received attention from NGOs particularly in Andhra Pradesh and recently in Gujarat
  • preliminary estimates of the area under cottonseed production for the 2007-08 season indicate that compared to 2006-07, the total area under cottonseed production in 2007-08 has increased by 15-20% in different states. This will further increase the demand for labour, including children, in this sector.