ALBA, Italy – Ferrero is supporting the ILO to implement a 40-month project in Turkey to contribute to the elimination of the worst forms of child labour in seasonal agriculture in hazelnut harvesting. As we celebrate World Children’s Day and the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child today, the ILO and Ferrero are asserting their commitment to the elimination of child labour. With more than US$ 4 million in support from Ferrero, the ILO will implement a multiyear project in the Turkish provinces of Trabzon, Zonguldak, and Şanlıurfa, designed to support the withdrawal of children currently working in the sector as well as prevent others from entering it.
Under the public private partnership framework between ILO and Ferrero, the project will work with ILO tripartite constituents (the government, as well as workers and employers organizations) to support knowledge sharing about what works to address child labour, particularly in the hazelnut supply chain, and to maximize learning opportunities. The ultimate objective of this process is to enhance the ability of national and local stakeholders to take the actions needed to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey, stated that with this partnership, they will be able to expand their ongoing intervention and cover all hazelnut harvesting areas in Turkey. He added “I am sure that the project will be a concrete example of partnership between a global private sector actor, Ferrero, and the ILO that implements best practices in Turkey and also generates knowledge and lessons learned with global impact.”
The project is also committed to establishing and scaling up mechanisms for direct interventions to end child labour in areas engaged in seasonal hazelnut harvesting, as well as raising awareness about the importance of eliminating child labour among the general public, national and local stakeholders and supply chain actors.
“Ferrero recognises the value and importance of a partnership approach to addressing child labour. The ILO as a specialized agency of the UN has the expertise and experience to understand how to engage effectively. This project builds on the work accomplished since 2013 through our active participation in the ILO-Caobisco public private partnership, and supports the actions we will take in the coming year towards our aim to be a driving force behind a hazelnut industry that creates value for all.” says Marco Gonçalves, Ferrero Chief Procurement & Hazelnut Company Officer.
Despite the decreasing trend in the number of children in economic activity, child labour has been documented as a problem in Turkey. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) Child Labour Force 2019 Survey, 720,000 children aged between 5 and 17, or 4.4 % of the total child population in Turkey, were engaged in economic activity. Out of those, 30.8 % were engaged in economic activity in the agriculture sector. Working children are exposed to occupational risks, which can lead to lifelong chronic health problems. Moreover, the children of seasonal agriculture workers are more likely to face interruptions to their education. Such disruptions can reinforce an under and/or unqualified labour force, which subsequently perpetuates poverty.
The ILO has been providing technical support and implementing projects that respond to child labour in seasonal agriculture, particularly the hazelnut sector, in Turkey through public-private partnership projects since 2012 in collaboration with the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services (MoFLSS). This new public private partnership project, co-chaired with Ferrero and the Ministry, will further complement existing ILO activities dedicated to the elimination of child labour in Turkey. Ending child labour in all its forms has been an ILO priority since the organization’s inception in 1919.
In early 2021, Ferrero will, in line with its Supplier Code, release a Charter document related to hazelnuts. This Charter will set out Ferrero’s commitments in three areas: Human Rights and Social Practices, Environmental Protection and Sustainability, and Supplier Transparency. Ferrero is committed to an ethical and sustainability hazelnut value chain and making a dedicated and active contribution towards this. Learn more in our Ferrero Sustainability report.