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School in Tanzania

How we tackle child labour

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines child labour as “work that is inappropriate for a child’s age, affects children’s education, or is likely to harm their health, safety or morals. It should be emphasised that not all work carried out by children is considered child labour. Some activities may help children acquire important livelihood skills and contribute to their survival and food security. However, much of the work children do in agriculture is not age-appropriate, is likely to be hazardous or interferes with children’s education. For instance, a child under the minimum age for employment who is hired to herd cattle, a child applying pesticides, and a child who works all night on a fishing boat and is too tired to go to school the next day would all be considered child labour”.

Olam is against all forms of child exploitation and the use of forced or trafficked labour, respecting and abiding by the ILO conventions No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and No. 138 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and Work. In addition to ensuring this is applied across all of our direct operations (plantations, farms and processing units), Olam works proactively with others, including our suppliers, governments, specialist NGOs such as the International Cocoa Initiative, and industry peers, to progressively eliminate these abuses in agricultural supply chains.

Olam follows, and expects its suppliers to follow, the table below as a direct reference to ILO Convention No. 138 defining child labour by the following categories:

Minimum age for admission to employment or work

This is clearly stated in the Olam Supplier Code, which is being rolled out across our supply chains, setting out minimum and non-negotiable standards to which all our suppliers must adhere. Signing our Supplier Code represents a commitment to follow the fair employment practices in compliance with all applicable local government rules and regulations regarding Child Labour Laws, and an understanding that regular audits will be carried out. In addition, Olam undertakes a raft of measures to mitigate the risk of child labour; these include:

  • Training farmers in good labour practices through the Olam Livelihood Charter (203,696 in 2016)
  • Helping farmers to increase yields through the provision of pre-finance, agri-inputs and training in Good Agricultural Practices, enabling them to hire adult labour
  • Identifying child labour risk factors through the Olam Farmer Information System and collaborating with governments and partners to provide access to schooling and long-term availability of teachers
  • Scaling-up initiatives by working with partners including customers, foundations, governments and NGOs.

Tackling child labour in cocoa and hazelnut production with the Fair Labor Association (FLA)

As an affiliate member of FLA, we have programmes to help eradicate child labour from cocoa and hazelnut supply chains in Côte d’Ivoire and Turkey. For 2016, FLA conducted audits at 3 cocoa cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire with no instances of child labour identified. We believe this is due to the consistent messaging and support we give to farmers about child labour.

Since one of the root causes of child labour is lack of money, Olam Cocoa has intensified support to women’s associations. We assist them in developing income‑generating activities such as fortified cassava nurseries. This year, we will extend the activities to poultry and animal production, as well as literacy and savings and loan schemes.

Turkish hazelnut farmers have larger farms than traditional smallholders in Africa and Asia, but they still require Olam Livelihood Charter support, particularly in terms of environmental and social practices. Migrant labour moving through Turkey to support the harvests brings increased labour risks, from child labour to fair payment for adults. The FLA monitors the success of our awareness and remediation programmes. The FLA report from the 2016 harvest monitoring will be available later in 2017.

The full report is available to download here.