FNC joins with Colombian Government to fight child labour

The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) and Colombia's Ministry of Labor have marked the World Day Against Child Labour (June 12) by agreeing to work together to prevent and eradicate child labor and exploitation in the coffee industry. Through a memorandum of understanding signed between the entities in late 2015, Colombia’s Minister of Labour, Clara López and CEO of the FNC, Roberto Vélez pledged to jointly prevent child labour in accordance to the legal framework and the principle of shared responsibility and to promote respect for the rights of all boys, girls and teenagers involved in coffee sector. Among the initiatives that the Ministry and the FNC agreed to carry out are the design and implementation of joint awareness and education campaigns regarding child labour, the design and implementation of joint prevention and eradication campaigns regarding sexual exploitation, and information sharing between the Ministry and the FNC in order to facilitate meeting the goals set out in the memorandum.   As the representative of Colombia's more than 500,000 coffee growing families, the FNC condemns all forms of child abuse, exploitation or labour that compromise the emotional development, health, or education of children.
The FNC is also seeking to highlight that in the rural family context where Colombian coffee growing takes place, coffee, in itself, is not an activity that generates child labour. Furthermore, not all involvement of children and youth in coffee production should be defined as exploitation or should be abolished. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), “children's or adolescents' participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling is generally regarded as being something positive.” (ILO, 2004:p16). In the Colombian context, it is the very essence of the knowledge transfer that takes place from generation to generation of coffee growing families. During the meeting with the Ministry of Labor, the FNC encouraged the Colombian government to implement a regulation that condemns child labour in the coffee sector while allowing children to be part of the family traditions and processes inherent to Colombian coffee growing. The FNC says that these practices are precisely what have made Colombian coffee be a world recognised product and an engine for development. Not only does the coffee sector account for 23 per cent of the country's agricultural GDP, but nearly 2.2 million Colombians derive their income directly or indirectly from coffee production.

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