Date Posted: June 8th, 2009
As this story reveals, farm workers are among the most vulnerable people in many African countries. Living arrangements that are tied to employment contribute to this vulnerability, as do low income and low rates of formal education. Under these circumstances, farm workers have few options available. However, farm workers are finding ways to stand up for their rights. In July 2008, for example, the Farm Workers Summit in Northern Cape province, South Africa, brought local farm workers together to work towards a consensus about their employment concerns, and propose possible solutions.This Farm Radio International script sheds more light on the vulnerability of farm workers: The grim fate of farm labourers in the Western Cape, South Africa (Package 81, Script 5, August 2007).
This story from FRW Issue #33 cites examples of employers and government taking action to improve the quality of life of farm workers: “Some progress towards defending farm workers’ rights” (August 2008).
Broadcasters can play an important role in giving a voice to vulnerable people. You may wish to look for stories of local farm workers taking steps to obtain their own farmland and/or achieve independent, sustainable livelihoods. If there are large commercial farms in your area that employ farm workers (especially workers who live on the farm), you might consider investigating whether the living conditions and employment conditions are acceptable to the workers and meet national standards. What rights do these workers have if the farm owners die or farm ownership changes hands? A farm workers’ association may be a good place to start. A human rights NGO could also alert you to reported or suspected problems.