CLEP monitoring data also does not support another claim made by Bayer which said that `At the end of the cotton seed season 2005 less than 5 % of farm labourers were children under 15. This would be a significant reduction when compared with 50% from earlier investigations`. CLEP monitoring data clearly indicates that the proportion of children to the total workforce on Bayer farms was always above 20% at any time of the season during 2005-06.
Child labour rehabilitation programme Bayer claimed that the Creative Learning Centres (CLCs) - established in association with Naandi Foundation - had been very successful in enrolling about 700 children by the end of February 2006. The field visits to eight of these education centres in Mahaboonagar reveal that there is little truth in the claim made by the company. The number of children enrolled in these centres has been exaggerated. Moreover these centers were unable to attract the real child labourers who need them most. Most of the children admitted in these centres are young children in the age group of 5 to 8 years who have not worked in cottonseed farms or in any other fields. One of the reasons these centres have not been able to attract the children working on cottonseed farms is the lack of community motivation and mobilisation activities at village level. It was also found that there is lack of coordination between the education programme and other interventions of the companies.
To sum up: the joint action plan for elimination of child labour in cottonseed farms implemented by Bayer and Monsanto in 2005-06 had a limited impact. Children continued to be employed on the farms producing seed for these companies though in reduced numbers. The action plan did not yield its objective of total elimination of child labour mainly due to lack of effective implementation of the plan at the field level, while the plan itself lacks a holistic approach. One important gap in the action plan was its failure to address the issue of procurement price. Low procurement price is an important contributing factor to the continuation of the extensive use of (cheap) child labour in cottonseed farms. This effect is documented in detail in the report ‘The Price of Childhood’5, which seed companies are still not ready to accept.
5 Venkateswarlu, D. and Lucia da Corta (2006) ‘The Price of Childhood: On the Link between Prices Paid to Farmers and the Use of Child Labour in Cottonseed Production in Andhra Pradesh, India ‘ Report Commissioned by the India Committee of Netherlands, International Labour Rights Fund and Eine Welt Netz NRW.