The rice traders organized safety and capacity building training workshop for rice millers and other agriculture sector stakeholders in rice value chain, especially to protect the work place rights of woman rice transplanter.

The Rice Partners Pvt Ltd (RPL) one of the top rice exporter of Pakistan in collaboration of Helvetas Pakistan and Swiss Solidarity piloted another Phase-III training workshop to train the agri-workers associated with rice value chain to create awareness of field work for women agri-workers,said a press release issued here on Thursday.

The development sector organizations also involved in the training process to sensitize the agriculture women workers about fundamental rights of the children of female agriculture workers,especially the rice transplanters.

The Rice Partners Pvt Ltd (RPL) one of the top rice exporter of Pakistan in collaboration of Helvetas Pakistan and Swiss Solidarity piloted a training workshop to train the rice millers, development sector organizations to sensitize them about fundamental rights of the children of female agriculture workers,  especially the rice transplanters, said a press release issued here on Thursday.

More than 40 rice mills including organizations from development sectors, academia and media personnel participated in the event.

Manager Sustainability RPL, Zafar Iqbal while giving the opening remarks highlighted the initiatives of RPL to promote and ensure decent working conditions in rice value chain of Pakistan.

He said that RPL started its philanthropic work from the development of farmers and now it has expanded to the labourers of agriculture sector.

Zafar said that RPL has trained more than 2,8000 farmers on sustainable rice production and also provided them the facility of land laser leveling on 50% cost sharing basis.

Manager Sustainability RPL also narrated that RPL is also working for welfare of agriculture labor. RPL established Community Mother Centers at multiple villages of district Sheikhupura in which decent environment was provided to the children of agriculture labour particularly female rice transplanters.

He added that Free Medical Camps were also organized to provide free medication to the rice transplanters at their working places throughout the rice transplanting season.

He said that around 15,000 families engage in rice transplanting every year only from district Sheikhupura and more than 100,000 from all over the Punjab.

A common practice is that all members from a family take part in transplanting work and children from those families also accompanied their parents.

Renowned Senior Child rights activist and consultant Ms Sadia Hussain said that physical, emotional and psychological health of children belonging to agriculture labour must be considered for a conducive working environment in the rice value chain.

She said that the protection of children and vulnerable adults is a collective societal responsibility.

She said that we must protect the fundamental rights of children particularly right to name, education, health, safety, security; freedom of expression, freedom of association without any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, religion, caste and creed.

She further added that children particularly children of agriculture sector labour must be protected against abuses, violence, forced labor and any physical or emotional torture.

Senior Corporate and Development sector Consultant, Annan Waffi Qureshi on the occasion said that juvenile rights should be prioritized in every sector including the agriculture sector.

He highlighted the mode of communication to create the awareness for children’s rights and their protection, especially who belongs to the families working in the rice value chain.

He said that to engage the children in labour work whether forcefully or voluntarily is now a crime in Pakistan and everyone who is present here must raise his/her voice against this crime.

He also highlighted the referral mechanism to report the cases of violation of rights of children. He further added that there are a number of government and non-government organizations that are working for protection of rights of children.

Child Protection and Welfare Bureau and Search for Justice are the prominent institutes which are particularly working for protection of children and stopping violations of their rights.

Field Manager, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, Mr. Zahid Rehman also addressed the participants on the occasion.

He said that working conditions of the farms were highly hazardous and exposed children to several risks of insect bites, injuries and infections, exposure to extreme heat and pesticides without any shelter.

Rehman added that keeping in view the hazardous conditions of farms Helvetas and RPL provided moveable backpack canopies covered from all sides to the children of rice transplanters to avoid the insects and provision of shelters along with the dry food, repellents, and water coolers in rice cultivation region of the Punjab.

He further added that similarly, for the larger group of families working jointly at farm

level, a bigger shelter tent along with solar plates, fans, air cooler, water cooler and first aid boxes were provided to keep the children in a healthy and safe environment at farm level.