Bayer CropScience Takes the Lead
Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
At the end of July, Bayer CropScience presented its Child Care Program for combating the use of child labor in the production of cotton seed in India to a group of stakeholders. At a workshop held in Hyderabad, India, representatives of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and experts from Indian and international NGOs were favorably impressed by the results of the program:
“If other companies were to take up in this outstanding initiative, it could be even more effective.”
“I wasn’t involved in this program for a while and was therefore not aware of the progress that has been made without any public pressure. The results exceed my expectations by far.”
Bayer CropScience started up the program after discovering that some subcontractors in the production of cotton seed in India were using child labor. “After over three years of successful work, we want to discuss the Child Care Program and the details of our campaign to combat child labor with international experts,” explained Dr. Michael Schneider, Head of Public & Governmental Affairs. “The idea of this workshop is to enable Bayer CropScience to incorporate the experience of qualified experts and share its own experiences with others.”
The experts also took the opportunity to talk about borderline cases in everyday farming practice and discuss suggestions on how to tackle this situation in the future. For example, Bayer CropScience takes care that its suppliers do not employ children in their cotton fields. But what about farmers’ children who help out in the fields for a few hours at the weekends or after school? This and other similar cases were examined in detail during the workshop.
Also participating in the discussion were a representative of the German Embassy in New Delhi and delegates from other international agricultural companies. In his welcoming address, Stefan Gerlich, Senior Bayer Representative for India, stressed that the company sees itself as the “farmers’ partner” and that the Child Care Program, which has substantial advantages for the farmers, too, is “an expression of our social commitment.”
During the workshop, participants had the opportunity to visit the Bayer-Ramanaidu Vignana Jyothi School of Agriculture near Hyderabad. There they were able to see for themselves a concrete example of the company’s involvement in the education sector. Seed production technology and the principles of integrated crop protection are two of the main areas of study at the school. Students also learn the basics of business administration, including agricultural management, effective communication and the advantages of collaborative working. Priority is given to young people who were employed as child workers in the past.
By the end of the workshop, Bayer CropScience had amassed a gratifying number of constructive suggestions on how to further develop the Child Care Program. Jens Hartmann, the company’s Country Head for India, announced: “We will take the suggestions we have received on board. Today marks the start of a process that we will continue to pursue.”