Sri Lanka, ILO to probe use of child labour in agriculture

July 14, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Labour Ministry has sought the help of the International Labour Organization to do a survey to find out if the country’s agriculture sector uses child labour. They are today the most vulnerable of the farming and fishing communities and their rights to a decent and dignified childhood free from fear needs to be taken care of as a matter of urgency. Although the practice is not as widespread as in other poor South Asian and African countries, a survey eight years ago found nearly 600,000 children working in agriculture and industries in the island of 20 million people.

The survey, by the Census and Statistics Department, found that more than 90 percent of these children worked in the agriculture sector.

Now, the Labour Ministry is teaming up with the ILO, part of the United Nations, to conduct a fresh survey.

The ministry of labour has requested the ILO to provide technical help for the exercise,” said Tine Staermose, ILO Country Director in Sri Lanka. “We are now designing the survey and look forward to collaborating with them.

In poor countries where laws are lax or are difficult to implement, children are used as agricultural