TAMA Farmers Trust with support from Elimination of Child Labour in Tobacco growing (ECLT) Foundation says it has noted the need to sensitize farmers on issues of Covid19 and work with them to find local and sustainable solutions to the pandemic. The intervention will also assess how the pandemic has impacted on Agricultural Labour Practices (ALP), an element that is critical in as far as compliance with trade requirements for crops such as tobacco is concerned.
The organization says over the years, it noted that non compliance to ALP were bringing in some challenges to the export of tobacco more especially on child labour and forced labour.
It says of late, restrictions to export Malawi tobacco were noted and this reminded TAMA and other stakeholders of an urgent need to put more effort in curbing these ALP vices- child labour and forced labour in line with the theme for 2020 World Day Against Child Labour – Covid19: Protect children from Child Labour, Now more than ever.
Speaking when he officially opened a – day long training workshop for Agricultural Extension Development Officers, Health Surveillance Assistants, TAMA Business officers and Social Protection officers drawn from its implementing districts of Lilongwe, Dowa, Kasungu and Mzimba South held at Linde Motel, Mponela in Dowa, TAMA Farmers Trust’s Chief Executive Officer, Nixon Lita, said TAMA and ECLT came with an initiative to sensitize tobacco growers on the effects of Covid19 and how it relates to child labour, targeting farmers so that they are aware of how they can avoid it.
Lita said the community health care workers and Agricultural Extension Development Officers will assist TAMA and the nation to publicise the message of Covid19 pandemic in farmers’ own culture and language and hence ensure continued trading in tobacco and other crops.
He said TAMA understands that the pandemic might bring some challenges contributing to shortages of labour in farming.
….” This shortage might result in farmers resorting to employ children that would result in tobacco export restrictions,”… said Lita.
Lita expressed hope that the training is expected to bring modalities to fight child labour in tobacco production to its implementing areas in Lilongwe, Dowa, Kasungu and Mzimba districts.
One of the training participants, Anthony Manda, Senior Disease Control Surveillance Assistant for Mzimba South, said the training is an eye opener as they will be passing the message of Covid19 to people who are thinking that Corona Virus is not real, he said it is time to pass the message that the Pandemic is seriously killing people including farmers .
Covid19 Farmer Based response will be implemented in 3 Group Village heads of T/A Kabudula in Lilongwe, 3 Group Village heads of T/A Kayembe in Dowa, 3 Group Village heads of T/A Santhe in Kasungu and 3 Group Village heads of T/A Mzukuzuku in Mzimba with support from ECLT of Geneva, Switzerland amounting to $14,000.00.
By: Vincent Gunde