Written: 4.2.04, to Rainer Kruse/ Global March Against Child Labour
Child work at the cotton seed production in India
Your letter from December 18th 2003
Dear Mr. Kruse,
as you noticed in your letter, we are obliged not to engage any children in our company. This obligation also applies for our Indian seed company, Proagro Seed Company Pvt. Ltd. They neither employ children as permanent nor temporary workers.
The production of hybrid cotton seeds in India is a seasonal work, normally carried out by contract farmers on their fields. Proagro has recently checked their contracts with the sub-companies involved in the production of seeds regarding the ban on child labour and also tightened them up accordingly. Additionally there are periodical controls of the contractual partners and intensive efforts to sensitise the planters on the issue of child labour.
Therefore the prevention of child labour is a main focus of the information exchanges taking place right now, which Proagro is conducting with its contractual partners, the seed producers as well as the purchasing organizations for cotton. An additional measure is the identification of all bags of basic seeds of the coming season with an appropriate indication.
These measures apply directly to all areas of reproduction under contract with Proagro. At the moment these are 150 hectare out of 4.000 hectare in the Indian federal state Andrah Pradesh. We cant understand the data of 40 up to 10.000 hectare mentioned in the study of Dr. Venkateswarlu.
Bayer CropScience / Proagro participated last September in an initiative to further improve the situation (CLEG, Child Labour Elimination Group). Other partners are the local child protection organization MV Foundation and in the meantime already half of the 200 cotton hybrid- seed producers located in India.
You already heard about the meeting of said initiative at December,
13th , 2003, where a common plan of action was adopted. Essential agreements are:
the composition of two working groups, which tackle the topic as well on the level of local producers as on the level of national management,
and the decision to include the agrarian administrations responsible and the institutions of the collection of cottons (collectors). At the same time an arbitration board was set up to deal with controversial cases.
These measures are accompanied by an information and educational advertising campaign in the cultivation areas, with focus on a radio program and a poster campaign. We are convinced that these are important steps for the further improvement of the situation in the case of child labour, even outside our company.
We hope this information was helpful and assume that you forward the information to the two other signatories.
Bayer CropScience AG
Dr. Gerhard Waitz