(HRW)Tobacco farming is a pillar of Zimbabwe’s economy. Tobacco is the country’s most valuable export commodity—generating US$933.7 million in 2016—and the crop is particularly significant to Zimbabwean authorities’ efforts to revive the economy. However, Human Rights Watch research in 2016 and 2017 into conditions on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe revealed an industry tainted by child labor and confronted by other serious human rights problems as well. Zimbabwean authorities and tobacco companies should take urgent steps to address child labor and other human rights abuses that may be undermining the sector’s contributions to economic growth and improved livelihoods.
“Zimbabwe’s government needs to take urgent steps to protect tobacco workers,” said Margaret Wurth, children’s rights researcher at HRW and co-author of the report. “Companies sourcing tobacco from Zimbabwe should ensure that they are not buying a crop produced by child workers sacrificing their health and education.”