rehabilitation of these children. For this purpose one has to count only net and not cumulative numbers.
Bayer also mentions in its report that no children were found during the last three monitoring visits in AP. This might be the case but this cannot totally be attributed to the successful efforts of the company. The timing of these visits is crucial to understand whether farmers really replaced the children after the company request, or voluntarily terminated them because there was no labour requirement for them. The last three visits were conducted at the dead end of the cross pollination work or harvesting stage. Children are mostly employed in cross-pollination work. The labour requirement for this work varies significantly during lean and peak seasons. It is a fact that the labour requirement will come down by 60 to 70% during the last two weeks of the season. The labour requirement for harvesting operations is very nominal and engagement of children for this work is negligible.
Productivity and safety training for farmers (Target 400 scheme) As part of implementing the `target 400 plan` Bayer conducted two special training programmes on best agricultural practices to enhance the productivity and safe handling of pesticides in August 2006 for its growers: one for farmers in AP and one for farmers in Karnataka. The training on productivity improvement did not help many of the farmers to improve their yields. In AP out of 22 farmers interviewed only four farmers reported slightly higher yields compared to previous years. In some cases farmers incurred losses due to low yields and increased input costs.
In 2006-07 the wage rates increased by 15 to 20% while there was no increase in procurement price paid by the company. The increase in wage rates was due to the introduction of Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme by Government of India which ensures 100 days of employment for each person against official minimum wages. The company’s reluctance to review the procurement price is therefore still a hurdle to achieve zero child labour.
The initiative of Bayer to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) free of cost to its growers and providing training to them on the use of PPE and safe handling of pesticides is indeed a welcome step. Previously these farmers never had any access to PPE. However the use of PPE and other safety measures by the farmers is still low. The half day training given to farmers was insufficient. After the training there was little follow up by the company local field staff to find out whether farmers are actually using PPE or further education to those farmers not using PPE. Company field staff visit the farms very frequently and if they do follow up and further educate farmers there is a possibility that more and more farmers may start using PPE and follow other guidelines.
Credit support to farmers through bank linkages was a useful initiative undertaken by Bayer during 2006-07 season and has helped some farmers to minimise their interest payments. However, the implementation of a credit support scheme was only confined to