Child labor is defined by ILO Convention 182 on the Worst forms of Child labor as “work which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or moral of the children” and ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Age of Employment. Both Conventions have been ratified by Belize.
The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association in partnership with Fairtrade International, has been working on the implementation of its Pilot Project which has as some of its specific objectives to identify children in or at risk of being employed in child labour; identify risks to wellbeing of children and youth and also improve their wellbeing and to undertake actions to help reduce the risk of child labour including the worst forms of child labour in sugar cane producing communities.
On October 16th 2015, the BSCFA organized a stakeholder event at the Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina in Belize City to present findings of our Youth Inclusive Community Based Monitoring and Remediation (YICBM & R) Pilot on Child Labour and Youth Empowerment and Agriculture Pilot.
In attendance, were representatives from Fairtrade International, Fairtrade America, Tate & Lyle, Embassies of Belize, Government Ministries, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other Sugar Industry stakeholders. The event was carried out under the banner, “Increasing the Well Being of Children and Youth in and around BSCFA: Fairtrade’s Collaborative Approach” and was initiated with opening Remarks by BSCFA’s CEO Oscar Alonzo, CEO of BSCFA and Mr. Larry Attipoe, International Development Director of Fairtrade International. The YICBM&R pilot project was implemented in the villages of Yo Creek in the Orange Walk District and San Victor in the Corozal District, being some key indicators that they are both near the Mexican border and identified risk of child labour. The BSCFA Youth monitors undertook consultations with adults, children and youths in both communities and household surveys. Prior to the implementation of the Pilot, the BSCFA through a partnership with UNICEF received training by UNICEF’s International Officer from their Child Labour Section of UNICEF Headquarters based in New York UNICEF Headquarters, for the Board of Directors and further training for its Youth monitors and staff on Child rights and Child protection to better understand the child rights approach and how to conduct interviews with adults, children and youth. The YICBM&R pilot project has been described as innovative since it engages the community, adults, children and youth help to identify the root causes of childlabour; It also empowers youth monitors to assist in developing strategies to prevent and reduce the risk of child labour in the sugar cane farming communities. This is a new approach whose goal is to identify and remediate children found in child labor and ensure that they are not replaced by other children; which is an undertaking that should be further looked into at an industry level to ensure that our Sugar has a competitive edge in the International market. In 2017, the market for sugar will be liberalized in Europe and consumers today are looking to buy sugar from producers who are adhering to international conventions. The feedback from industry stakeholders and other business partners has been very positive. The BSCFA is currently developing specific prevention and remediation projects for these two communities and proposals to present for funding for the Rollout of this project to the rest of the cane farming communities.
The BSCFA has also adopted a proactive approach to decreasing the risk of child labour by implementing an Internal Control System for the monitoring of Child labour with reaping groups of the Association to record information of the workers employed to ensure compliance with their Child labour and child protection policy approved by its members.
BSCFA intends to Rollout the YICBM&R project on Child labour to the rest of its cane farming communities and engage in further youth empowerment in agriculture.