Special protection for children
Unfortunately, child labor is still widespread in many countries. In a number of regions in which we are present and maintain business operations, children traditionally are still used for activities such as field work to contribute to the subsistence of families.
Following our acquisition of the Indian seed company Proagro at the end of 2002, we began establishing measures to tackle child labor in our cotton seed supply chain. Through the Bayer CropScience Child Care Program, Bayer CropScience takes resolute and systematic action against child labor in India and helps to assert children’s rights.
The program works on various levels, with the most important objective being to achieve a change in people’s awareness. Agriculture can indeed be pursued cost-effectively without the deployment of children, and education through school attendance is the key to improving their living circumstances in the long term. Conveying this message forms the focus of our communication activities and personal dialogue with the farmers and general population in the affected communities.
The program also offers special education and training opportunities to children and young people in the regions in which we operate. Working together with local non-governmental organizations and institutions, we provide children with opportunities ranging from reintegration into the regular school system to vocational training through our “Learning for Life” initiative. More than 2,400 children and young people so far have benefited from these educational opportunities. At the Bayer Ramanaidu Vignana Jyothi School of Agriculture, for example, we provide young people with vocational training culminating in qualification as farm assistants.
Bayer CropScience concludes contracts with seed suppliers that contain a strict “no child labor clause.” These contractual agreements are explained in discussions with our partners and meaningfully supported by our communication measures in the villages. Several times a year, special monitoring teams make unannounced visits to the fields to ensure compliance with the clauses. They check the ages of the workers and document this information. The producers receive a bonus at the end of the planting season if no child labor was discovered. In the event that these rules are violated, a graded system of sanction measures takes effect that ranges from an oral warning and the loss of this special bonus to the cancellation of the contract in the case of repeat offenses. If a rare case of child labor is nonetheless discovered, we talk with the farmer in whose field the violation took place, as well as with the child’s parents to persuade them to send the child to school. The monitoring system in the fields is inspected through internal audits on a periodic basis. In addition, surprise field visits are undertaken by Ernst & Young Private Limited, India, once a year at randomly selected sample farms in a relevant number. During these checks, observance of the strict ban on child labor and also compliance with the monitoring procedures under the Bayer Child Care Program Management System (CCPMS) are reviewed.
To manage the program in India, a steering committee was deployed comprising the Senior Bayer Representative of the Bayer Group and the Country Head of Bayer CropScience in India, the managerial staff responsible for seed production, the leaders of the Child Care Program and the responsible employees of Bayer CropScience Communications.
We also ensure the additional involvement of important stakeholders through an Advisory Council established in 2008. This body includes not just representatives of Bayer CropScience, but also the following recognized experts from the scientific and developmental cooperation fields:
The CEO of the Fair Labor Association, Auret van Heerden
The Dean of Social Science at the Theological University of Friedensau, Professor Horst Friedrich Rolly
The India Country Director of the German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Dr. Guenter Dresruesse
A representative of The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) of India
The task of the Advisory Council is to advise the representatives of the Bayer CropScience Child Care Program on strategic content, such as on ethical production methods in the seed supply chain or the development of educational programs in rural areas. The council meets as often as required, but at least once a year. The first meeting took place on February 6, 2008, the second on December 11, 2008 and the third on November 20, 2009.
In 2009, we further expanded the Bayer CropScience Child Care Program that was originally developed for the area of cotton seed production, also introducing systematic field monitoring in vegetable seed production. The program will be expanded in 2010 to include our growing hybrid rice seed production activities.
Bayer CropScience also works with other companies on an international level to advocate the implementation of a child labor moratorium: on June 12, 2009 – World Day Against Child Labor – the international association CropLife International published a position paper against child labor in the seed supply chain that was drafted primarily by Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, Monsanto and Du Pont. The paper was initiated at a “round table” organized by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM). Also involved in drafting the paper were non-governmental organizations such as the Fair Labor Association and inter-governmental organizations such as the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
Further information on the Bayer CropScience Child Care Program is contained in a brochure
of the same name published in 2009.