ILO supports South-South Cooperation to promote decent work in the cotton sector in Tanzania

The ILO, Brazil and Tanzania teamed up to share experiences and best practices to enhance the national capacity to better respond to challenges in the cotton sector.

Press release | 16 November 2016
Dar es Salaam (ILO NEWS) - The International Labour Organization (ILO), Brazil and Tanzania organized a South-South Cooperation workshop to develop a project workplan on Decent work in the cotton sector in Tanzania from 14-18 November in Dar es Salaam.

The ILO, the Brazilian Government and the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled (PMO-LEYD) of Tanzania worked on a project aimed at contributing to the promotion of decent work in cotton-producing developing countries through the systematization, sharing and adaptation of Brazilian experiences.

A delegation consisting of representatives from the Brazilian Government, the Brazilian Agency for Cooperation and ILO Brasilia Office operated in Tanzania to directly interact with key stakeholders through field missions.

The workshop, attended by about 40 representatives from Government institutions, NGOs, UN agencies, and cotton sector institutions is aimed at identifying the priorities in the cotton sector, collecting the necessary inputs for the project workplan and defining coordination and implementation mechanisms of the project.

“South-South Cooperation initiative strengthens cooperation among the countries and paves the way for articulating several successful Brazilian experiences of eradication of child labour, productive inclusion and promotion of youth employment in the cotton production sector”, Tanzanian Labour Commissioner at the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Employment and People with disabilities, Ms. Hilda Kabissa stated.

Ms Kabissa further stressed the Government’s committment in enhancing the capacity of workers and employers in adhering to labour standards at the workplace as rights of workers in the supply chains are always mistakenly infringed.

“... It is therefore of utmost importance to ensure decent work in the cotton production and supply chain as one of the areas where child labour is rampant...I urge all the stakeholders to devote all efforts in monitoring child labour issues and facilitating awareness raising programmes on child rights...”, she emphasized.

Speaking on behalf of Ms. Mary Kawar, Director, ILO CO Dar es Salaam, the ILO Employment Specialist, Mr. Jealous Chirove said that the Brazilian support on decent work in the cotton sector in Tanzania was very timely considering that for the past two decades, cotton has been one of the major export crops for Tanzania ranking second after coffee.

“...Factors impeding the cotton sector from achieving its full potential include decent work deficits...cotton growing is labour intensive and many cotton growers employ children in their farns thus, contributing to the high child labour rate in Tanzania currentlt at 28.8% with nearly 92% of them working in the agriculture sector...”, Chirove underlined.

In Tanzania, the agricultural sector employs over 66% of the labour force but its contribution to GDP declined from 50% in 1987 to 28% in 2010. A need therefore to invest in the sector to stimulate the creation of decent and quality jobs.

Hon. Ms. Maria Teresa Pacheco Jenses, Deputy Minister of Labour Inspection in Brazil, hailed the efforts being put by the two countries in cementing their collaboration. She further stressed that the Brazilian policy on the eradication of child labour and forced labour started with the recognition of the problem by the government, years ago, and with the personal envolvement of some labour inspectors.

“…Decent work in cotton should aim at ensuring access to a safe and healthy work environment for sustainable development… As agriculture remains the backbone of our economic development, it is quite imperative to promote health and safety standards and best practices at the workplace for the betterment of the workforce and the entire nation…”, concluded Dr. Aggrey Mlimuka, Executive Director, Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE), commending the initiation of the project in Tanzania, a country which strives to build a middle income nation by 2025 through investing largely in agriculture and industrialization.


A recent ILO study on decent work in cotton supply chain in Tanzania recommended, among others, for an urgent need to increase investments in the cotton value chain, especially to the key government institutions which regulate and oversees the sector.

This project is aimed at promoting decent work in the cotton sector through the systematization, sharing and adaptation of relevant Brazilian experiences in areas such as fighting poverty, productive inclusion, prevention and eradication of child labour and forced labour, promotion of youth employment, combating discrimination, and promoting gender, race and ethnicity equality, and social dialogue.