Child labour

Taking child labour out of hazelnut harvesting

Turkey is finding success with coordinated measures to get children out of the hazelnut fields and into school. (Closed Captions available)

Date issued: 13 May 2015 | Size/duration: 3'21''

Three quarters of the world's hazelnuts are produced in Turkey. But the old practice of using child labour to harvest hazelnuts is putting the reputation of Turkey's hazelnut industry at risk. More and more countries are banning products that are produced using child labour. Turkey is responding with coordinated measures to get children out of the hazelnut fields, and into school.

Mehmet Garip Demir, age 14
"This is how you bend the branches and pick the hazelnuts one by one."

Turkey is the world's top producer of hazelnuts. 75 per cent of the world's supply comes from Turkey, much of it in the Black Sea province of Ordu. Entire families of seasonal workers set up camp during harvest season. And you can always find young children working alongside their parents. Most families don't see any alternative.

Cano Erez, Seasonal Worker
"Forget about it, I am taking my eleven-year-old to work, otherwise I have no money to take home."

Seda Akço, Lawyer
"In Turkey, employment under the age of 14 is banned by law, especially working in the agricultural sector."

Hatice Demir, age 15
"We start working at 6am. We have one hour lunch break at noon. Then we start working again to pick hazelnuts."

But in the heart of the hazelnut region, there is change. The government regularly inspects the hazelnut farms, looking for evidence of child labour.

Ömer Beyazit, Hazelnut Grower
"I cannot do it anymore because there are inspections. Next time I will ask the parents to take their children to the project school."

The ILO along with growers and the government worked together to provide 20 days of school for 562 children of seasonal workers in 2013 and 2014.

Rojbin, Student
"I like math class the most, and also music. I love studying. We have fun at school. We can read quicker when we study."

Dilek Battal, Teacher
"I am giving classes to a group of children who are here to work in the fields. We have tried to convince the families. A small group started to study and they influenced the others."

With the support of the provincial government, a school and social support center was built near some of the worker settlements as part as the on-going project continuing until 2017. Now, the children can attend class during the harvest season.

Nejat Kocabay, ILO
"This project is carried out by multiple partnerships and aims to be a model for eliminating child labour in hazelnut harvesting."

Even parents long used to seeing their children at work in the harvest are pleased.

Nusret Cakmak, Seasonal worker
"It is great that the kids can go to school here. It’s helping them to recover the missing school time while we are away. Kids will remember what they have learnt in these classes. It is really great."