Production of cotton goods with added value helping normalize employment relationships in Uzbekistan: ILO (Exclusive)
Baku, Azerbaijan, June 7
By Fikret Dolukhanov – Trend:
Uzbek government’s strategy on planting more fruits, vegetables and other crops instead of cotton is also part of the solution to avoid extreme peaks in labor demand during cotton harvest, Chief Technical Advisor for the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Uzbekistan Jonas Astrup told Trend on June 7.
He added that the ILO is pleased to note that the government of Uzbekistan is indeed pursuing this strategy.
According to him, moving up the value chain also has a number of potential benefits for the country, and clearly it is beneficial to manufacture and export higher value products rather than raw cotton.
“For example, less cotton is needed and consequently the government can reduce the areas of land allocated for cotton production. This will mean that fewer pickers are required and also there is an opportunity to not grow cotton on low yield fields in areas with low population density. These are exactly the areas with the highest risks of forced labor. Agricultural diversification is part of this,” Astrup said.
He also said that it is important to recognize the need for job creation in Uzbekistan.
“From a forced labor perspective it is important that cotton picking is seen as a normal employment relationship. People need to be recruited voluntarily and attracted by decent wages and decent working conditions. Having the private sector operate the entire cotton value chain is an opportunity to normalize these employment relationships,” Astrup noted.
He concluded that reducing the role of government structures in the recruitment of cotton pickers is likely to be helpful in elimination of forced labor as well.
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