HARARE – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that child workers on Zimbabwe’s tobacco farms are being exposed to nicotine and pesticide poisoning.
There is no figure on how many children work with tobacco, but the numbers are expected to be significant on the tens of thousands of small-scale farms.
Zimbabwe’s tobacco is a vital source of foreign currency.
But in a report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch says those who help to grow and cure the crop, including children, are facing serious health risks.
The New York-based rights group says it carried out a two-year study in four provinces that produce the bulk of Zimbabwe’s tobacco.
In the report entitled A Bitter Harvest, HRW says most of the children it interviewed who worked on tobacco farms had reported at least one symptom related to acute nicotine poisoning or green Tobacco sickness.
The rights group called on tobacco merchants to make sure they’re not buying a crop produced by child workers.