Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Francis Kasaila, has expressed worry that some farmers are still using child labour in tobacco fields despite the United States (US) Withhold and Release Order (WRO).
On November 1, 2019, the US government issued the order restraining entry of any tobacco and tobacco related products deemed to have been produced using child or forced labour.
Kasaila said it is sad that a few months ago a delegation from the US government found a tobacco field which was using child labour.
He described the decision as a wakeup call for the country to intensify effort towards curbing child labour.
“That is our responsibility and it gives us an opportunity to inform our farmers the dangers of using child labour.
“It is a serious issue now. How do we defend ourselves when they literally found the children working? The government is everyday telling the farmers to send the children to school and not in the farms. So we encourage the growers to increase surveillance to stop the matter,” Kasaila said.
Recently, the US government maintained its position on halting importation of tobacco and related products from Malawi due to failure to end forced and child labour in tobacco supply chain.
The high-level American Customs and Border Protection (CBP) delegation to Malawi came in February where it discussed the WRO with the government and maintained that the order stands until the industry proves otherwise on forced and child labour.