TO, MJ Tea Growers to Acquire Business; Technical Skills
250 smallholder tea growers and 150 youths are expected to benefit from an K188 million economic empowerment and technical skills initiative aimed at reducing incidences of child labor in Thyolo and Mulanje.
Impact Centre for Economic Empowerment and Development (ICEED) Project Coordinator for Thyolo and Mulanje, Chimwemwe Mkandawire, says the project is targeting poor men and women in the lower-tier of tea supply chain including youths who are at risk or were withdrawn from child labour to be independent.
Mkandawire indicates that through the ACCEL Africa project which is funded by International Labour Organization (ILO), the targeted population will be supported with startup capital after embracing business and technical skills for three months.
"In the rural communities, children between the age of 14 to 17 are not going to school maybe they stopped in standard two, so you cannot tell them to go back to school, they will refuse. So, empowering them with such skills will enable them to be independent and help their families," she said.
Thyolo District Labour Officer Joseph Sambo says the initiative will enable the district to reduce the child labour prevalence rate currently at 17 percent.
"Basically, I should say that this component to do with economic empowerment is going to really help communities around smallholder tea growers a great deal. Poverty is the driver of child labour. You know most of these households you find that their children are involved in child labour practices because of low income they have.
"So, this project is going to improve their economic status thereby reducing drastically child labour," he said.
The project will focus on smallholder growers association of Sukambizi, Mtendere cooperative, Msuwadzi and Chidzunga.