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Child Labour in Hybrid Cottonseed Production in Andhra Pradesh: Recent Developments

SECTION I


Recent Interventions

The present section briefly examines the recent initiatives against child labour in general and cottonseed sector in particular in the state by the government, local NGOs, the seed industry and international agencies like ILO-IPEC, UNICEF and UNDP.

Government of Andhra Pradesh

The government of Andhra Pradesh has recently initiated a number of steps to address the problem of child labour in the state. The State Legislative Assembly in March 2001 passed a resolution to end all forms of child labour and achieve Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) in the state by 2004.

The state government policy on child labour recognises the linkage between child labour and compulsory education up to class 10. In a report prepared by the Education Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh, it stated that 'the state's plan of action significantly views the entire process of universalising elementary education and elimination of child labour as simultaneous processes. In view of this, the strategies for enrolling children into school invariably incorporates strategies for withdrawal of children from work also'. The basic premise governing the programme for universalising elementary education in the state is that parents, even in rural areas, are not only willing but are also capable, in economic terms, of sending their children to formal schools. This implies that elimination of poverty is not a pre-condition for universalisation of education.7

Various programmes initiated by the state government to achieve its goal of total elimination of child labour in the state include the Back to School Programme, Residential and Non Residential Bridge Course Centres for 9-14 age group children under DPEP (District Primary Education Programme) and DPIP (District Poverty Initiative Programme), the National Child Labour Project Scheme and Early Child Education Centres. In the year 2002-03, the state government under DPEP and DPIP programmes supported 3,376 Non-Residential Bridge Course (NRBC) centres and 385 Residential Bridge Course (RBC) Centres. The state government has also launched a midday meal programme in 2002 in all the primary and upper primary schools in the state covering 700,000 (7 lakh) children. This programme is meant not only to increase enrolment but also to enhance retention through better nutrition levels and improve the quality of education in the schools.

Realising the limitations of the existing laws to achieve its goal of elimination of all forms of child labour and achieve universalisation of elementary education, the state government decided to bring a new legislation which ensures elimination of all forms of child labour making school education compulsory for all the children in the state. A Draft legislation was prepared and also received approval from the state cabinet in May 2003. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which was in power at that time promised to put this bill before the State Legislative Assembly for approval but failed to do so. The TDP lost power in 2004 and the new government headed by the Congress party has not yet revealed its decision regarding this pending bill.

To sensitise the community on the child labour issue and attract children into schools, community mobilisation activities have been undertaken across the state. A 10-day massive community mobilisation campaign known as 'Chaduvula Pandaga' was launched throughout the state in August 2002. In this programme, a large number of children were enrolled into schools across the state. A legal enforcement drive was undertaken to release child labourers and 5,442 cases were filed against the employers of children in different sectors.

In Mahaboobnagar and Kurnool districts where cottonseed production is concentrated, the issue of child labour has received special attention from the district administrations. During the 'Chaduvula Pandaga' programme, the labour departments in these districts have conducted enforcement drives in some concentrated pockets (Gadwal area in Mahaboobnagar, Nandhyala and Adoni areas in Kurnool) and filed nearly 200 cases against several seed farmers under the Minimum Wages Act 1948. With the help of the MV Foundation the district administration in Kurnool launched a massive community mobilisation programme in January 2004 covering all the mandals in the district. The issue of child labour in cottonseed fields has received special attention in this programme.

Although the present policy stand of the government on child labour looks at the problem and its solution from the right perspective, the necessary efforts have not been made to translate this policy into effective implementation at the ground level. In the implementation of most of the recent programmes launched by the Government, there is a high emphasis on the enrolment of children in schools rather than retaining them. Community motivation and mobilisation are given secondary importance and it is undertaken as a one-time event. The dry ration (of grains) and midday meal programme have encouraged fictitious enrolment in several places. Due to the fact that less attention is given to community motivation and mobilisation, the residential and non-residential bridge course centres opened by the government on the lines of the 'MV Foundation approach' are not functioning very effectively. The high targets set by the higher officials encouraged lower bureaucracy to report wrong statistics. Several local NGOs who came forward to partner with the government in community mobilisation efforts and mainstreaming of child labour through bridge course centres discontinued their partnership with the government due to non co-operative attitude of the bureaucracy.

The present estimates of DPEP on school and non-school going children indicate a drastic decline in the total number of non-school going children in the state (from 29 lakhs (290,000) in July 2002 to 5.8 lakhs in January 2003). However, the reliability of the DPEP estimates is highly questionable. Several NGOs have questioned these figures and even the Minister for Primary Education of the Government of Andhra Pradesh himself expressed doubts about the reliability of these figures.

Despite problems, the net impact of various interventions by the government in addressing the problem of child labour in general and cottonseed production in particular could be termed as positive. A lot of awareness has been created on the issue child labour in the state. The magnitude of child labour has declined though certainly not as much as claimed by DPEP. Also with regard to the child labour situation in the cottonseed sector the government interventions had some positive impact. The impact could however be felt more in the seed processing units. The enforcement drives conducted by the labour departments in selected areas sent a clear signal to the seed farmers and owners of the seed processing units that employing child labourers would attract severe penalty.

ILO-IPEC, UNICEF and UNDP

The issue of child labour in general and child labour in cottonseed production in particular has also received special attention from United Nations agencies like ILO-IPEC, UNICEF and UNDP.

ILO-IPEC

During 2000-2003 ILO-IPEC implemented a special project for the elimination of child labour in Andhra Pradesh. The project aimed at tackling child labour in the state by working closely with the government, employers, social organisations, NGOs and trade unions. As part of its project, ILO-IPEC brought together various trade unions and employers associations on a common platform to work against child labour. ILO-IPEC facilitated the formation of CEASE Child Labour (Consortium of Employers Association for Elimination of Child Labour) in 2001 with the objective of influencing employers against the employment of child labourers, encourage the public commitment of employers and inspire employers to work with the community and the government. CEASE Child Labour comprises of 22 Employers Federations, Sectoral Business Associations and Human Resources Professional Associations, which represents about three quarters of the trade, industry and commerce in the state. The Seedsmen Association of Andhra Pradesh, an organisation of seed producers is one of the members of CEASE Child Labour.

CEASE Child Labour paid special attention to the issue of child labour in the cottonseed sector. The Seedsmen Association took the responsibility for the elimination of child labour in the cottonseed industry in the state through sensitisation and mobilisation of seed producing companies, seed organisers and seed farmers. It also accepted the responsibility of implementing a model project for total elimination of child labour in Boothpur mandal of Mahaboobnagar district where seed production and processing activities are concentrated. Soon after becoming a member of CEASE Child Labour, the Seedsmen Association organised a meeting of its members in September 2001 and passed a special resolution requesting them not to engage child labourers in their seed production and processing activities. In order to sensitise the members of the association on the issue of child labour, the Seedsmen Association conducted a number of meetings and workshops. During its 7th annual general body meeting in October 2002, the main theme discussed was how to eliminate child labour from the seed industry.

The child labour elimination programme in Boothpur mandal started in the month of April 2002. In order to sensitise various stakeholders - parents, employers, teachers, youth and elected representatives - on the issue of child labour, village level meetings and rallies were conducted. A special enrolment drive was undertaken by the community workers of the Seedsmen Association in the month of August for enrolling 6-8 year non-school going children in schools. About 450 non-school going children were directly admitted into local government schools. With the support of the district administration, one Residential Bridge Course (RBC) centre with a capacity of 200 for 9-14 years age group children was started in September 2002. About 150 children joined this camp in September and the number increased up to 250 in December.

The activity of community awareness and sensitisation which are the key components of the programme in Boothpur project has received a set back due to criticism from the local press and political leaders. They have questioned the motives of the seed companies in implementing this programme and the efforts of the seed companies as an attempt to protect their interests rather than that of the children. Due to this problem, the Seedsmen Association could not continue its community mobilisation activity and has withdrawn from the programme. The responsibility of running the bridge course centre has been entrusted to an NGO called 'Seva Bharathi'.

The activities undertaken by the Seedsmen Association to sensitise the seed companies and seed farmers had some positive impact on the child labour problem, particularly in seed processing factories. Due to efforts of the Seedsmen Association along with the Cotton Ginning Association which is also a member of CEASE Child Labour the number of children employed in the seed processing units in several parts of the state particularly in Boothpur and Kurnool towns has come down8. With regard to cottonseed production the impact is very marginal. The Seedsmen Association has helped seed companies to develop systems to obtain commitments from farmers while distributing seeds to them that they would not employ children in their farms. Despite the appeal from the Seedsmen Association several members of the organisation continue to employ children in seed production activities on a large scale.9

With a special focus on girl child labour in hybrid cottonseed production ILO-IPEC has implemented a separate project during 2002-2003 in two mandals of Mahaboobnagar district namely Maldakal and Tadur. The local NGOs SPEED (Society for Peoples Economic and Educational Development) in Maldakal and SVK (Sramika Vikas Kendram) in Tadur, implemented this project during 2002-2003. Various activities were undertaken by these NGOs to sensitise the community on the child labour issue and motivate children to join schools. Due to the efforts of these NGOs and local government officials the number of non-school going children in these two mandals have come down. According the data provided by NCLP, Mahaboobnagar the total number of non-school going children in Maldakal and Tadur mandals has come down from 8,683 in April 2002 to 2,408 in September 200310. These figures need to be cross checked because there is a wide variation between these figures and the other sources of data (DPEP estimates and author's own field study in some villages in Maldakal in 2003).

UNICEF and UNDP

Since 2001 UNICEF has been supporting DPEP to implement a special project for elimination child labour in two mandals namely Gonegandla and Nandavaram in Kurnool district where cottonseed production is concentrated. With a capacity of 100 children each, two residential bridge course centres were opened in these mandals to mainstream the child labourers into formal schools. Under the South Asian Poverty Alleviation Programme UNDP has also supported the initiatives for elimination of child labour in a few mandals in Kurnool and Mahaboobnagar districts.

The area and number of children covered through special projects implemented by three UN agencies i.e. ILO-IPEC, UNICEF and UNDP is very limited. Given the widespread nature of the problem the impact of these projects on the overall magnitude of child labour problem in cottonseed production in the state is also marginal.

International NGOs

Since several MNCs are also actively involved in cottonseed production in Andhra Pradesh where children are employed on a large-scale, the issue of child labour in this sector has received global attention. Various international NGOs and unions in Europe and USA have started campaigning against the role of MNCs in encouraging the problem of child labour in cottonseed production. The campaign was first taken up in 2002 by the Dutch organisations India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), Amnesty International Netherlands, NOVIB/Oxfam Netherlands and the Federation of Netherlands Trade Unions (FNV) with regard to both Unilever and Advanta which have their headquarters situated in The Netherlands. Though the activities started in 2002 with a visit to Unilever a campaign started in 2003 with the publication of a detailed report by ICN focusing on the role of MNCs in contributing to the problem of child labour in cottonseed production in Andhra Pradesh. The ICN report stimulated several organisations in other countries like UK, Germany and the USA to join the campaign as well. In the UK Anti Slavery Society took up the issue with Unilever. In Germany, the Coalition against Bayer-dangers, Germanwatch and the Global March Against Child Labour took up the issue with Bayer. In the USA, the International Labour Rights Fund (ILRF) and the International Center on Child Labour and Education (ICCLE) took up the issue with Monsanto. The international campaign gained momentum in 2003, mainly through publicity in national and international written media, correspondence and dialogues with companies and pressure by social investors and public opinion, putting MNCs under severe pressure to initiate steps to address the problem of child labour.

Table 1: International NGOs involved in campaign against child labour in India's cottonseed industry
Country Name of the organisation
The Netherlands India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN)
Amnesty International Netherlands
NOVIB/Oxfam Netherlands
Federation of Netherlands Trade Unions (FNV)
UKAnti-Slavery Society
Germany Coalition against Bayer-dangers
Germanwatch
Global March Against Child Labour / Germany
USAInternational Labour Rights Fund
International Center on Child Labour and Education

Local NGOs

A local NGO like the MV Foundation which is working in several parts of the state, SHECS (Sri Hanumantharaya Educational Charitable Society) in Kurnool, SPEED, Sramika Vikas Kendram, Koneru, VIP (Villages in Partnership), Mahila Samakya in Mahaboobnagar and Social Service Centre in West Godavari are actively involved in the campaign against child labour in general and the cottonseed sector in particular in the state11. Among these NGOs the contribution of MV Foundation to the issue of child labour in general and cottonseed sector in particular is very significant.

MV Foundation

The MV Foundation, based in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Southern India, has done pioneering work on the issue of child labour. It has developed a unique and powerful approach to address the twin problems of child labour and lack of access to full time education.

MV Foundation works with the basic understanding that 'Any child out of school is a child labourer' and the only way to eliminate child labour is through full formal education. A set of interlinked strategies have been implemented to liberate children and to enrol them into schools. As part of its overall strategy, MVF mobilises all those concerned with the process of withdrawing children from work and enrolling them in schools: parents, teachers, youth, employers, women's groups, elected representatives and the children themselves. This massive mobilisation effort is done with a view towards transforming attitudes and creating an environment that is supportive of children's education. Motivation centres have been established at villages which serve as the nerve centre to bring working children into school. Bridge courses, camps and residential programmes are conducted as part of a process to encourage children to attend schools.

The success of the MVF model can be gauged by the fact that since 1991 up to now the Foundation has worked in over 4,330 villages. In 1,500 of these villages, every child in the age group of 5-11 is attending full time school. In 600 villages all children up to 14 are attending school. Nearly 250,000 children have been enrolled and retained in schools, while more than 7,000 bonded labourers have been released.

With regard to the issue of child labour in cottonseed production, the contribution of MV Foundation is significant. The exploitation of child labour in cottonseed fields was first brought into light in 1998 by this organisation12. In Parigi, Pudur, Kulkacharla and Doma mandals of Rangareddy district, where cottonseed production is concentrated, MVF, with the support of the local community, initiated a massive campaign against the employment of children. Especially in 2003 and 2004, the MV Foundation spread its activities to Kurnool and Mahaboobnagar districts, the main centres for cottonseed production. Hundreds of girl children working in cottonseed fields were withdrawn from work and were sent to schools. Special bridge course camps for older (10-14 years) girls are being conducted to bring them into the fold of mainstream school education.

Since 2001, some of the leading MNCs involved in hybrid cottonseed production in Andhra Pradesh have been involved in a dialogue with MV Foundation and other organisations working towards a collaborative action plan for the elimination of child labour in the cottonseed sector. In a significant move in September 2003, all the leading MNCs and major Indian companies agreed to enforce a collaborative action plan with MV Foundation and other organisations for the total elimination of child labour in the cottonseed industry.

In January 2004 with the help of the district administration in Kurnool MV Foundation launched a district wide massive campaign against child labour. The issue of child labour in cottonseed production received special attention in this campaign because there is a high concentration of cottonseed production in this district.

Seed industry

Initiatives taken by the seed industry

The growing concern about the problem of child labour in Andhra Pradesh in recent years has put the entire cottonseed industry, which employs children in seeds production, under severe criticism. The role of the companies in perpetuating the problem of child labour in cottonseed production is being questioned. MNCs who claim they are committed to the highest standards of socially responsible business practices had to face criticism from national and international media and NGOs.

Though the seed industry has already taken note of the issue of child labour in cottonseed farms in 199913, until 2001 no efforts were made by the industry to address the problem. The initial response of most of the seed companies has been one of 'denying any responsibility on their part since they are not directly involved in employing child labour and evading responsibility for the actions of their contractors and sub-contractors'14.

The initiatives undertaken by the Seedsmen Association of Andhra Pradesh since 2001 to address the problem of child labour in the seed industry have been discussed above in the ILO-IPEC section.

Association of Seed Industry (ASI)

Association of Seed Industry (ASI) is a national association of the planting seed industry in India. All the major MNCs namely Monsanto, Syngenta, Advanta, Proagro, Pioneer and Emergent Genetics are members of this association. Indian companies such as Mahyco, Raasi, Ankur and Nath Seeds are also members of this association15. In Andhra Pradesh ASI members control nearly 27% of area under cottonseed production. Non ASI companies account for nearly 50% and the remaining 23% production area is controlled by the unorganised sector16.

In a significant move the ASI, along with Nuziveedu seed company (the largest in India) in September 2003 decided to take a concerted action to eliminate child labour in cottonseed industry in India through collaboration with the MV Foundation, a leading child rights organisation in India. A consultative meeting of the representatives of ASI and MV Foundation was held on September 7, 2003. This meeting was an outcome of a year long deliberations between some of the member companies of ASI and MV Foundation to find ways to take collaborative efforts for the total elimination of child labour in seed production activities.

In the meeting ASI expressed its commitment to work in collaboration with the local NGOs and the government. A Child Labour Eradication Group (CLEG) within ASI was created to conduct internal monitoring. This group was to work along with the MV Foundation to design a work plan and facilitate external monitoring. A joint committee with the representatives of CLEG (of ASI) and MVF was created and entrusted with the task of preparing an action plan for the next six months and to monitor the implementation of action plans.

The September 7th meeting between ASI and MV Foundation was significant in the sense that the same companies which denied responsibility for employment of children in seed production activities of their suppliers earlier accepted their responsibility and agreed to proactively work towards the elimination of child labour. According to Prof. Shantha Sinha, Secretary of MV Foundation, the significance of this meeting is that 'for the first time all the MNCs recognised that children are being employed in farms to which they have sub-contracted seed production. They also recognise that it is part of their corporate social responsibility to correct the situation'.

In the Annual General Body meeting of ASI held on September 13, 2003, a resolution was passed which read "Association of Seed Industry hereby resolves to proactively discourage directly and through its members the practice of child labour in hybrid seed production and further take effective steps along with other stakeholders towards eradication of this social evil from the hybrid seed production areas".17

Subsequent meetings between ASI and MV Foundation were held on December 13, 2003 in Hyderabad, on January 27, 2004 at Kurnool (field level), on February 14, April 25 and July 9, 2004 at Hyderabad to review the progress of work.

On February 19, 2004 ASI and MV Foundation jointly organised a district level orientation meeting in Kurnool for cottonseed farmers. Around 500 cottonseed farmers participated in the meeting. ASI has prepared posters and brochures appealing to farmers not to employ child labour. All member companies of ASI incorporated a clause on elimination of child labour in the agreement between the farmer and the company. ASI requested its members to make sure that cotton foundation seed bags of their companies would carry a printed message of "no child labour". Emergent Genetics and Proagro, both member of ASI, organised orientation meetings for its farmers separately in December 2003. Some of the members of ASI recently shared the information of lists of villages with cottonseed production activity with MV Foundation to facilitate a process of local monitoring of the field situation18. In the meeting held between ASI and MV Foundation on July 9, 2004 the ASI shared its action plan for 2004-05 crop season. The various activities planned by ASI include formation of mandal level monitoring committees, publicity through print and electronic media, village incentive scheme aims at rewarding villages which do not employ children in cottonseed farms. During the meeting the MV Foundation asked the ASI to spell out a clear action plan on the part of companies to deal with farmers who violate child labour norm.

ASI has recently designed a scheme of incentives and disincentives which is called 'Operation Chaitanya'. It is meant to motivate the farmers to give up employing child labour in their farms. According to this scheme if seed farmers in a particular village come forward to totally eliminate child labour on their farms ASI will reward the entire village by financially supporting educational infrastructural needs of the village like constructing a school building, supplying educational material etc. Under this scheme also several disincentives have been announced for farmers who violate the no-child-labour norm in the agreement between them and the companies. In the proposed scheme of disincentives, the first time violation of the farmer will result in issuing a show cause notice by the company and a certain period to rectify the situation. If the farmer continues to violate the no-child-labour norm after a second inspection, the company will cut some percentage of money from its payments made to the farmer. For a third time violation the company will completely reject the seed from the farmer. The scheme does not clearly specify the time gap between each inspection.

In addition to taking part in ASI sponsored activities some of the member companies took additional steps to address the issue at their company level. Emergent Genetics and Proagro organised orientation meetings for their farmers separately in Kurnool in December 2003 and January 2004, respectively. During the December 13, 2003 meeting between the ASI and MV Foundation, Emergent Genetics, Proagro and Advanta reported that their field staff conducted surprise field checks in few selected farms in the first week of December 2003 and found no child labour in their farmers' fields during the visits19.

Syngenta, an active member of ASI, recently made an agreement with Fair Labor Association20, a US based independent monitoring organisation, for external monitoring of farms producing seeds for its company. Under this agreement the FLA would first advise Syngenta on how to monitor labour standards on the farms that supply seeds to the company and then conduct an independent monitoring and publish its results publicly21. Syngenta is the first plant science industry to approach the FLA to conduct external monitoring. Michael Stopford, Syngenta's head of global public affairs and government relations, admits that there are risks in being publicly evaluated on the FLA website. He acknowledged that NGOs and other observers will scrutinize the results carefully. But he says that working with external groups and submitting to external monitoring is the way to regain credibility22. It is understood that the scope of FLA monitoring will not be confined to child labour issue in Syngenta`s cottonseed production sites in Andhra Pradesh. In addition to the child labour issue, the FLA monitoring will also look into other issues related to labour standards like wage rates, working hours, health and safety of workers and cover all of Syngenta Seeds' production sites in India23. This is a major initiative and should complement and strengthen the joint project undertaken by ASI, of which Syngenta is already an active member, and the MV Foundation, which includes external monitoring. So long as the FLA work does not merely duplicate the ASI monitoring, Syngenta deserves credit for confronting the issue seriously and setting high standards.

To sum up, the sequence of events that followed after the September 7, 2003 meeting where the ASI made a clear public commitment to proactively intervene for the total abolition of child labour in their seed production activities, clearly indicates that in the initial period ASI was very slow to take the required steps to translate its commitment into effective implementation at the ground level24. During the September 7, 2003 meeting, it was decided that the Child Labour Eradication Group of ASI with the collaboration of MV Foundation will immediately work out a concrete action plan for the next six months (October 2003 to February 2004) and implementation of it would start from the 2003 crop season itself. There was a long delay on the part of ASI to call for the next meeting with MV Foundation to discuss the action plan. The second meeting between ASI and MV Foundation was held on December 13 by which time the cottonseed crop season came to an end. For cottonseed production the time between September and November is very crucial because this is the peak time for cross pollination activity where children are used on a large scale. As a follow up to the September 7 meeting some of the members of ASI at their individual levels have actually initiated some steps during the 2003 crop season but these steps were mostly confined to strengthening their internal monitoring mechanisms and holding few meetings with farmers at the end of the crop season. As a consequence, ASI lost the opportunity to make any significant positive impact on the child labour situation during the 2003 crop season.

During the September 7 meeting, it was also agreed that ASI would share information regarding their production sites and provide lists of farmers who produce cottonseed for ASI members with the MV Foundation. This would enable the latter to bring any violations by the farmers to the notice of ASI, with the help of local Child Rights Protection Committees. After repeated requests from MV Foundation in April 2004 ASI informed that because of business reasons they could not share the names of farmers. However, they agreed to provide the lists of villages and seed organisers. In July 2004, Emergent Genetics, Proagro and Syngenta shared this information with MV Foundation.

Another crucial issue discussed at length during the September 7 and December 13, 2003, meetings was the formation of local (mandal) level committees for joint monitoring and field verifications with the representatives of ASI, MV Foundation and Child Rights Protection Committee members. Despite the fact that ASI agreed on this, the process of formation of these committees has yet to be completed. A district level meeting of field representatives of ASI and MV Foundation was held in January 2004 to initiate field level cooperation but no follow up meetings were held after this at district level between ASI and MV Foundation.

Since January 2004, ASI took a number of initiatives to motivate seed organisers and farmers against the practices of employing children through meetings, appealing through posters, pamphlets, print and electronic media, offering incentives to the villages which do not employ children in seed production activities, taking oral and written commitments from farmers at the time of making contracts with them, which are in some ways very significant and will certainly contribute to the mitigation of the child labour problem to an extent.

However, in all the initiatives undertaken by ASI, one crucial aspect missing, which the seed companies alone can address, is procurement price policy. ASI holds the view that the employment of child labour in cottonseed production is in no way linked to procurement price policy adopted by the companies. It argues that cottonseed farmers have relatively better profit margins compared to other farmers and the procurement rates offered invariably exceed the cost of production considering the wages paid to adult laborers, and provide enough margin. But the findings of the present study and also earlier study by the author reveal a clear linkage between procurement pricing and employment of child labour in cottonseed production. In the ICN report published in 2003, the author analyzed data on cost of cultivation, procurement prices and wages structure in cottonseed production and argued that low procurement prices paid by the companies is one of the contributing factors for the extensive use of child labour in cottonseed production. Even though companies obtain a huge profit margin, they do not seem to be making any rational calculation about the cost of cultivation while fixing the procurement price to be paid to their seed farmers. With the current procurement prices of companies, seed farmers cannot afford to pay better wages to the labourers and still make reasonable profits. Unless better wages are paid, farmers would not be in a position to attract adult labourers to work in their fields in sufficient numbers.

Despite low wages due to severe drought and due to lack of other employment opportunities in some areas like Gadwal division in Mahaboobnagar the adult labourers are coming forward in recent years to work in cottonseed farms. In Nandhyala division in Kurnool where there is perceptible increase in adult labour component to total workforce in recent years, the wage rates paid labourers are relatively better compared to other areas in the state25. This is not to suggest that once procurement price is increased the problem will be automatically resolved and farmers will shift to adult labour and pay better wages to the labourers. The price issue at least can address a part of the whole problem and other interventions will be more effective once it is resolved.

INTRODUCTION   SECTION II

India Committee of the Netherlands / Landelijke India Werkgroep - October 4, 2004