HYDERABAD: The cotton farming industry in Telangana has reportedly been employing thousands of children and adolescents as unpaid and invisible labour. They are not only dropping out of school but are also exposed to hazardous pesticides, said officials of the International Labour Organisation, who were in the city to launch a four-year-long project.
The project is aimed at studying the cotton farming sector in the State in collaboration with the Labour Department of Telangana and suggest interventions. The first-of-its-kind study will be conducted in the districts of Gadwal, Adilabad, Warangal and Nalgonda, where cotton is the main crop.
Officials from the ILO highlighted that the cotton farming industry was one of the most challenging and labour-intensive ones. Scattered across the country, it employs a huge number of labourers, both migrant and bonded. Livelihood of lakhs of farmers in Telangana relies on cotton farming. Statistics from ILO suggest that over 17.13 lakh hectares of cotton is grown in Telangana making it the 3rd largest producer of cotton in India. Children are caught in the web of undervalued labour due to physiological ‘advantages’.