HZPC has trial fields in various climate zones, where new varieties are tested based on local conditions. These trial fields are also located in poverty-stricken areas. Child labour is a deeply rooted problem in these areas. In our opinion a child belongs at school, where he or she can build a future. We therefore do not accept any child labour in our trial fields. We started developing a code to this end in 2015.
It is mandatory for trial field operators to sign a declaration, stating that child labour is not taking place in the trial fields. Plantum's statement against child labour formed the point of departure in this regard and it was customised for HZPC. But we want to do more. In many cases, the prohibition of child labour merely transfers the problem and does not address the cause. It is important to do something about poverty in a community.
We are also entering into dialogue with suppliers on this topic where child labour may possibly appear in the value chain; think of the suppliers of jute bags for example. We made an inspection visit to the jute manufacturer in Bangladesh so that we could see the working conditions with our own eyes.
We are in the start-up phase of a food programme pilot project in Egypt. By offering children schooling, you allow them to build their future. A food programme is started at the school, at the same time as the schooling programme. School gardens are created at the schools. The children grow vegetables in these gardens and are able to take the vegetables home with them. This means that the family's needs are looked after, even while the child is learning at school.
Contacts have been established with partners in the agricultural sector, with interests in the same regions. We will focus on the project in the forthcoming period so that good progress can be made. If this pilot project scores a positive result, we will consider how to expand the project to other trial field locations.