Three United Nations agencies have joined forces with key international agricultural groups to launch a new landmark global partnership to address the plight of children working in agriculture sector.
The initiative will focus on policies and activities to promote the application of laws on child labour in agriculture, mainstream child labour issues into national agricultural activities, and promote youth employment opportunities in rural areas.
"It is only by mainstreaming child labour issues into mandates and policies and by working together that we can strengthen the worldwide movement to eliminate child labour," International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director-General Juan Somavia said, welcoming the new partnership.
The Tuesday's announcement coincided with The World Day Against Child Labour.
ILO estimates that 218 million children worldwide, from 5 to 17 years old, are engaged in some kind of labour, with 126 million engaged in the worst forms of child labour.
The agency noted that worldwide, agriculture is where by far the largest number of working children can be found -- an estimated 70 per cent, of whom 132 million are girls and boys aged 5-14, who often work from dawn to dusk on farms and plantations, planting and harvesting crops, spraying pesticides, and tending livestock.
"These children are helping to produce the food and beverages we consume," said ILO.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation stressed that putting an end to child labour in agriculture must become a political priority, saying it is "simply unacceptable" that 132 million children are forced to work the land under unhealthy and hazardous conditions.