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Fiji Time: 3:11 PM on Sunday 20 April

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Child labour warning

Luke Rawalai
Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SUGARCANE farmers associations can be deregistered if any form of child labour is found in their farming areas during the next crushing season.

Sugar Tribunal Commissioner Timothy Brown said furthermore legal action could be taken against farmers who indulge in this form of labour.

Mr Brown said they received allegations of such forms of labour among the Lautoka and Rarawai cane producers and that this would not be entertained.

"We have a memorandum of understanding between the Sugarcane Cutting Gang Association under which all sugarcane cutters must be above the age of 18 years old," said Mr Brown.

"We have also partnered with the Ministry of Labour in ensuring that this crime is put to a stop."

Mr Brown advised farmers to refrain from engaging children in cane cutting because it was a heavy form of labour not fit for children.

"It is different in cases where farmers like to teach their young ones how to handle farms but for those cases where children are labouring for the purpose of money is really wrong.

"Children belong in schools and they should not be used as a means of getting money."

Mr Brown said they were also educating farmers on the harms of using weedicides such as paraquat since they often had adverse effects on the natural environment.

"We have been doing awareness programs and informing farmers of the need to keep a balance in their ecosystem so that they can have a healthy environment which is needed for high sugar productivity," he said.