CAOBISCO and ILO join forces to tackle child labour in Turkish hazelnut industry

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has joined with European confectionery body CAOBISCO in advancing its efforts to tackle child labour surrounding hazelnut harvesting in Turkey, writes Neill Barston.

It comes in the form of a public-private partnership agreement, involving some of the largest sweets and snacks businesses in the world, including Ferrero, Nestle, Storck, Mondelez, Alfred Ritter, Mars, Chocosuisse, Baronie GRoup, Cemoi, Jancke, Koenig, Fazer, Jordans and Jordans Dorset Ryvita.

The confectionery groups, who are all represented within CAOBISCO, are joined by Germany’s sector association, the BDSI, which has partnered with the ILO for the project known as  “An Integrated Model for Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) in Seasonal Agriculture in Hazelnut Harvesting in Turkey” until the end of 2023.

Significantly, hazelnuts have been used increasingly within confectionery ranges, with fruit and nut inclusions featuring regularly within premium chocolate brand selections.

Notably, the ongoing partnership between the CAOBISO and ILO contributes to overall policy advocacy and implementation, expansion of the knowledge base and improvement of institutional capacity for the elimination of child labour in seasonal agriculture, especially in the hazelnut sector.

The project facilitates the exchange of experiences between government, private sector, social partners and civil society in addressing child labour, particularly in the hazelnut supply chain.

It also maximises collective learning opportunities among the project stakeholders. Building on the project outcomes since 2013 ( which includes a total of 7,949 children reached in Ordu, Düzce and Sakarya provinces), the new phase of the project will be implemented in the provinces of Ordu, Düzce, Sakarya, Giresun, Samsun and Şanlıurfa.

According to CAOBISCO, It will maintain a multi-sectoral approach and involve key stakeholders for the implementation. The geographical coverage for the strategic intervention model will be expanded to include new target provinces, namely Giresun and Samsun.

These provinces represent 32% of the total surface of hazelnuts planted in Turkey and 29 % of the production according to Turkish Statistical Institute’s data for 2019.

Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey, stated that the strong partnership lasting for years between the ILO and CAOBISCO resulted in the expansion of ongoing interventions and will cover almost all hazelnut harvesting areas in Turkey.

He also mentioned that “The extension of the project is the good example of how long-lasting partnership could create synergy for developing well-sustained and responsive programmes for the elimination of child labour and this can be achieved only if international organisations, public institutions and private sector recognise their roles and responsibilities in addressing the problem.”

“Through the extension of the project Caobisco and its contributing members reaffirm their commitment to addressing child labour by building on the work accomplished since 2013 with the ILO in Turkey. CAOBISCO recognises the important value of the public-private partnership framework and the extension will both enable the continuity of the existing programmes, as well as broaden their scope”, said Aldo Cristiano, President, CAOBISCO.

For better use and implementation of existing policies technical personnel from various relevant institutions, in addition to managerial level actors, will be targeted under capacity building activities through structured trainings with specific focus on the elimination of child labour in seasonal agriculture. Involvement of a wider range of actors in capacity building activities will be ensured through the inclusion of security forces, teachers’ organisations and chambers of agriculture.

Staff of relevant institutions will benefit from information seminars and teachers will be provided with training and materials to improve monitoring of at-risk children in schools. Trainings will be organised for social support staff of hazelnut companies, including national and local exporters, that are carrying out social programmes in targeted provinces.

In addition to this capacity building support, these actors will be brought together with actors of other crop groups, in order to enhance collaboration and create synergies. The findings and the lessons learned from the project will contribute in closing the knowledge gap and in bringing the possibility of adapting this to other crop groups and locations where seasonal agricultural work exists.

The project will also map past and existing work on the ground in order to better identify the needs for sustainable action against child labour in seasonal agriculture in Turkey.

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