Multi-stakeholder Strategy for Child Labor Elimination in Agriculture in Argentina
This project is raising the visibility and understanding of child labor in agriculture in Argentina and contributing to improved tools and coordination among government entities, the private sector, and civil society to confront the problem. It focuses on the provinces of Tucumán, Misiones, and Buenos Aires. The project is working with the private sector to develop agricultural certifications and mechanisms for addressing child labor in yerba mate and blueberry production. Additionally, the project is assisting the government to improve tools and coordination to address rural child labor.
Child labor in Argentina affects 9.4 percent of all children aged 5-15, and 21.9 percent of all adolescents aged 16-17. Child labor in agriculture is common and often occurs within a family setting, making it difficult for the government to monitor. Children often participate in all phases of the production process: preparing the land, planting, tending to the crops, and harvesting, including in yerba mate and blueberry production. This work can involve long periods of stooping, repetitive movements, carrying heavy loads, and/or exposure to toxic chemicals, which can negatively affect children’s development. At the same time, thousands of landless workers engage in seasonal work in agriculture, along with their entire families.
The Government of Argentina has some mechanisms in place to address child labor, but the reach of labor law enforcement in agricultural areas remains limited, reducing protections for children and adolescents engaged in hazardous agricultural labor. The Secretariat of Labor and Employment has National and Regional Commissions for child labor eradication, but coordination and engagement need strengthening. The inspection system has delegated the inspection of child labor in rural areas to the National Registry of Rural Workers and Employers (RENATRE), but this entity has had a traditional focus on adult employment. Challenges also exist in the private sector, where companies often perceive child labor to exist only on small farms.
A key aspect of the project is to build a common understanding of the challenges and opportunities for addressing child labor in agriculture in the provinces of Tucuman, Misiones, and Buenos Aires (national level).
Through a multi-faceted approach, the project works to increase the capacity of labor and agriculture stakeholders to address child labor in agriculture. The project leverages the experiences of two nonprofit organizations, “A Dream for Misiones,” and the Argentine Blueberries Committee, to provide their respective expertise on addressing child labor in yerba mate and blueberry production and on agricultural certifications and mechanisms for addressing child labor with the private sector.
Additionally, the project seeks to improve government tools to address rural child labor, including mechanisms for policy advocacy, risk prevention methodologies, educational strategies, youth employment programs, and inspection procedures. Key to the project is development of a diploma course for public officials (e.g., inspectors from the National Agrarian Technology Institute and RENTRE) on public policies and child labor. The project also enables the development of coordination mechanisms (e.g., joint protocols) led by the National Commission for the Eradication of Child Labor and the Provincial Commission for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor.
The project also improves private sector coordination by establishing a sector compliance system to gather and share the experiences of companies in the prevention and elimination of child labor. This approach complements the work of the government by disseminating experiences, promoting services, and addressing critical gaps where the government has not yet developed full capacity.
- The project has made significant progress in working with the private sector to develop agricultural certifications and a social compliance system for addressing child labor in yerba mate and blueberry production. To date, three companies have piloted the system, which involves training and awareness-raising activities for all stakeholders within the production chain, the implementation of monitoring systems, and the introduction of educational services.
- The project’s extensive training and technical assistance strengthen the capabilities of stakeholders in blueberry and yerba mate production. So far, the project has trained 834 people, including production managers, technicians, workers in civil society organizations, and other officials from provincial and local governments on a variety of labor-related topics.
- PAR has conducted several research efforts to generate evidence to be used in informative publications and public awareness campaigns. These findings inform the ongoing development of strategies to increase awareness and knowledge of child labor in agriculture. To date, the project has completed five research studies and seven agreements have been reached between the project and government entities.
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