Colombia unites against child labour in the coffee industry
Under the frame of the World Day Against Child Labour, Colombia’s Ministry of Labour and the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) has agreed to work together to prevent and eradicate child labour and exploitation in the coffee industry.
Through a memorandum of understanding signed between the entities in late 2015, Clara López, minister of labour and Roberto Vélez, CEO of the FNC 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 children involved in the coffee sector.
Among the initiatives that the Ministry and the FNC agreed to carry out are joint awareness and education campaigns regarding child labour, prevention and eradication campaigns regarding sexual exploitation, and information sharing between the Ministry and the FNC in order to facilitate meeting these goals.
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. During the meeting with the Ministry of Labour, 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. 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% of the country’s agricultural GDP, but nearly 2.2 million Colombians derive their income directly or indirectly from coffee production.