producing seed for them had been reduced from six children per acre in 2003-04 to approximately one child in 2005-06. The proportion of children to the total workforce was supposedly reduced from 50% to less than 5% during the same period. The Creative Learning Centres (CLCs) established in association with Naandi Foundation, the company stated, had been very successful in enrolling about 700 children by the end of February 2006.
Though both companies had some success in tackling child labour in the cotton seed fields and enrolling children in learning centres, this success has been exaggerated.
As already indicated, Bayer shared the field monitoring data collected by CLEP field staff with the NGOs (also with the author of the present note) in December 2005. According to the data shared by Bayer a total of 250 children in the peak season and 190 in the lean season were found working on the farms producing seed for its company. The claim of one child per acre made by the company was based on these figures. There are several methodological problems underlying the CLEP monitoring data and it is difficult to accept these figures as real figures. Bayer has asked the author of the present report in January 2006 (when the `Monitor TV` report and German NGOs press statement quoted the figure of around 500 child labourers in Proagro farms in 2005-06 based on the author’s estimation) to comment on the CLEP monitoring data. In a letter dated 26 January 2006 to Mr Clive Pegg, Managing Director of the Proago seed company, the author of the present report made the following observations on the CLEP monitoring data:
`The total area under cottonseed production as reported by you (Proagro) is 275.5 acres (press release dated 4-1-06. Out of this the CLEP team monitored only 185 acres (67.1%). The data reported by the CLEP team indicates that the total number of children working on these farms is 250 (no double counting is done here to arrive at this figure. Of the three or four visits to each farm only one visit which reported highest number of children is taken into consideration), an average of 1.35 children per acre. Even if we assume that farms which are not monitored have the same magnitude of numbers the total number of children would go up to 372. (Assuming 1.35 average for left out farms is somewhat problematic and may underreport because the majority of left out farms are situated in areas (Kurnool) which reported high incidence child labour than the general average). I also found that the percentage of farms observed with very few labourers in all the visits is also significant. About 18% of the farms reported below four people (when other farms reported high numbers of 8 to 10) per acre in all the visits which is difficult to understand. Taking these things into consideration I made a rough estimation of the number as 450 to 500`4.
4 Extract from author’s e-mail communication with Mr Clive Pegg, Managing Director of the Proago seed company on 26-1-06.