47 Irrigation Schemes, Dairy Farming in Child Labor in Thyolo

Stakeholders have been urged to sensitize farmers in Thyolo who use children to irrigate their crops at night in 47 irrigation schemes in the area of Senior chief Mphuka.

Speaking to Zodiak on Monday after an entry meeting for K188 Million Accelerated Action for Elimination of Child Labor in Tea and Coffee Supply Chain (ECCEL) project by ICEED, Mphuka Cooperative Chairperson Steven Chidakwa, revealed that many smallholder farmers use children to irrigate their fields at night.

Chidakwa believes initiating deliberate interventions in sensitizing the farmers would go a long way in addressing the vice in the area.

"We have over 2, 946 in these schemes, sometimes these farmers use children to irrigate. We have been trying to curb this, so we thought this project could help in this area of Mphuka in sensitizing them on the need to protect children. They use these children at night to irrigate beans fields," Chidakwa said.

Statistics at Thyolo district labor office indicate that child labor prevalence rate stands at 17%.

Officials say agriculture is the main contributor to child labor in the district especially dairy farming and tea sector where some smallholder tea growers use their children.

Thyolo district labor officer Joseph Sambo, has admitted that poverty among smallholder farmers remains a driver of increased child labour practices in Mphuka irrigation schemes and dairy farming around Thunga area.

Sambo was, however, was quick to indicate that the council will engage other partners to intervene.

"Poverty is always a driver of child labour. You know most of these households that we have, you find that their children are getting involved in child labour practices because of income that they have at that household," Sambo said.

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