In Maharashtra, over 60% employed children work in agriculture: CRY

Lost childhood: A child labourer sorts chillies to earn ₹8 per kg at a market in Nagpur on Wednesday, World Day Against Child Labour.   | Photo Credit: S Sudershan

The percentage of working children engaged in agriculture stands at 60.67% in Maharashtra, according to an analysis by the NGO, Child Rights and You (CRY), which was released on Wednesday, World Day Against Child Labour.

The analysis of the Census 2011 data sets released in 2016 shows that the problem of child labour in agriculture gets exacerbated in drought-prone regions of Maharashtra, like Marathwada. It showed that when families migrate, the condition of children worsens with a rise in rate of dropouts, child marriages and children working as daily wage labourers.

The analysis highlighted the problems children face, especially in the districts of Latur and Parbhani. The NGO said, “With most fields drying up and non-availability of water, children are forced to migrate with their parents in search of work to nearby villages or cities. Many children eventually drop out of schools and begin working with their parents at the place of migration.” According to CRY partner Sankalp Manav Vikas Sanstha, which has been working in Parbhani district for several years now, during the months of migration, 6,764 families from the talukas of Pathri, Manwat and Selu move to work in sugarcane harvesting.

Exposed to dangers

Priti Mahara, Director Policy Advocacy and Research at CRY, said, “Children working in the fields face serious dangers such as exposure to pesticides as well as pesticide-contaminated water and food. For children working in farms, hours of work can get extremely long during planting and harvesting seasons. It is physically demanding and strenuous, involving long periods of standing, stooping, bending and carrying heavy or awkward loads.”

Ms. Mahara said that children work mainly to help their families because the adults do not have adequate income. She said, “Children work also because there is a demand for cheap labour in the market. When they are forced to work for long hours, their chance of attending school gets limited, preventing them from gaining education. Their time to play and leisure is somehow compromised.”

Nationally, 62.5% of working children and adolescents below 18 years appear to be engaged in agriculture and related industries in India. In absolute numbers, among 40.34 million of the working children and adolescents, 25.23 million work in the agricultural sector.

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) recent global estimates cite that there are approximately 152 million children in child labour and seven out of every 10 working children are engaged in agriculture. ILO also considers agriculture to be the second most hazardous occupation globally.

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 1:26:50 PM |

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