Child Labour and Trans-National Seed Companies in Hybrid Cotton Seed Production in Andhra Pradesh


  1. In India, traditional forms of bonded labour in agriculture have been historically largely associated with men and boys, with instances of women, especially girls, working as bonded labourers being relatively rare (see Marla, 1981:20-22 and Patnaik and Dingwaney, 1985:259). In his report, Marla estimates the population of the bonded labourers in the late 1970s in India. According to him, 97.7% of bonded labourers are men and boys, while 2.3% of them are adult women. There are no girls working as bonded labourers.

  2. The estimates of total number of children working in cottonseed farms are for the year 2000-2001. The methodology adapted for estimating the total number of child labour working in cottonseed fields is discussed in section two.

  3. A recent study has estimated the total number of child labour employed in carpet industry as 1,15,000, diamond polishing 1,50,000, gem polishing 2,500 and the glass bangles between 9,428 to 11,126. The figures for Carpet, Diamond polishing, Gem Polishing and Glass bangles are taken from a book 'Economics of Child Labour in Hazardous Industries of India', edited by Richard Anker, Sandhya Barge, S.Rajagopal and MP Joseph (1998).

  4. A brief profile of MNCs involved in cottonseed business in India is presented in section III.

  5. 1) Venkateswarlu, D. (1998) 'Pattitotalalo Balikala Vetti Chakiri' (in Telugu), Mamidipudi Venkatarangaiah Foundation, Secunderabad, 2) Venkateswarlu, D. (2001) 'Seeds of Bondage: Female Child Bonded Labour in Hybrid Cottonseed Production in Andhra Pradesh', Business and Community Foundation and Plan international (India Chapter), and 3) Venkateswarlu, D. (2001a) 'Multinational Seed Companies and Girl Child Labour in Hybrid Cottonseed Production in Andhra Pradesh', a study commissioned by Catholic Relief Services, Hyderabad. (Unpublished report).

  6. In Andhra Pradesh mandal is a middle level administrative unit consists of 20-30 villages. The names of four mandals where field survey was conducted are -

  1. Seedsmen Association of Andhra Pradesh, 7th Annual Report, 2002.

  2. In the year 2000-2001 AP State Seed Development Corporation has taken up hybrid cottonseed production in about 200 acres only.

  3. Since its parent Unilever is no longer in seeds research, HLL's seeds business has no access to latest international technologies including biotechnology. But to secure the long-term future of the seeds business, it is necessary to ensure "uninterrupted flow of technology and know-how from a technology partner" under a technology collaboration agreement or under a joint venture agreement, HLL said in a notice to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) (The Hindu Business Line, 6-12-2001).

  4. Emergent Genetics is a US-based private equity investment firm involved in seed business. It has recently purchased Mahendra Hybrid Seeds, one of the largest hybrid seeds companies in India with strengths in cotton (Hindu Business Line, 3-1-2001).

  5. Hindu Business Line, 6-12-2001.

  6. 'Three new specialty chemicals factories set up, hybrid cottonseed receives excellent response' (HLL website).

  7. From about 400 acres in 1996-1997 to 1600 acres in 2001-2002. In addition of Brahma HLL is also involved in production and marketing of other cotton hybrids like Krishna, Lakhmi, NHH 44 etc (interview with HLL representative, 22-1-2002).

  8. 'Cottonseed firms draw flak at meet', The Hindu, May 18.

  9. Unilever website:

  10. "Social Review - Unilever's approach to corporate social responsibility" (source Unilever website :

  1. Unlike other MNCs, Advanta India is making direct agreements with seed farmers in some areas through the 'seed village' approach for production of seeds. In the seed village approach company makes production agreements with individual seed farmers directly avoiding any intermediaries like seed organizers. The seed village approach followed by Advanta starts with a meeting with village elders and leaders. The company offers a scheme to the village farmers under which they will produce its seed from parental-line seeds it supplies. The company offers technical guidance and agrees to buy the whole crop of seed at a predetermined price. It is observed that three is no variation in the procurement price offered by the Advanta to seed farmers who are having direct contact with company (through seed village approach) and farmers who operate through seed organizers.

  2. Interview with Narasimha Reddy, 14-1-2001.

  3. Interviews with Dr. Yogeswara Rao (former president of AP Seedsmen Association), 21-1-2002, and Sankara Rao (member of AP Seed Growers Association), 23-1-2002.

  4. Interview with Pullareddy (HLL seed producer), 21-1-2002.

  1. SHECS is working in Kurnool, APMS in Mahaboobnagar and Medak districts, Sramika Vikas Kendram in Mahaboonagar, Koneru in Nalgonda and LITDs in Khamma districts.

  2. The Hindu Businessline, 25-6-2001.

  3. CMS technology makes emasculation obsolete and halves the labour required for pollination. Pollination is one of the two main tasks performed by child labour, the other being emasculation.

  4. Interview with Mr. Bapairaju, production in-charge of Mahyco in Kurnool area, 21-1-2002.

  5. Interview with a company official who requested anonymity, Kurnool, 22-2-2002.

  6. Dresdner RCM Global Investors, an international asset management firm based in UK had a meeting with top management of Syngenta in January 2002 to discuss the problem of child labour in production of cottonseeds in India. It has requested the company to take necessary steps to eliminate the child labour in production of its seeds.

India Committee of the Netherlands / Landelijke India Werkgroep - April 24, 2003