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TASHKENT, Nov. 6 — Uzbekistan will reduce planted cotton in favour of cereal and vegetable crops next year because the use of child labour in cotton harvesting and other agricultural work in the country will end.
Uzbek authorities considered the curtailment of the use of child labour for cotton harvesting as early as last spring. In July, Minister of Foreign Economic Affairs Ganiyev held a meeting of interested organisations to discuss a national action plan. Developed by the Ministry of Labour, the plan will implement provisions of two conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) recently ratified by Uzbekistan, setting a minimum work age and prohibiting arduous forms of child labour.
This year, however, it was not possible to implement these provisions fully, since without the assistance of adolescents Uzbekistan farmers would be unable to manage the harvest of cotton. "The cotton is sown in such a way that it can no longer be gathered by machine," said a Tashkent farmer Oblast Rashid Khamroyev. "Furthermore, the cotton was sown under the assumption that both townspeople and adolescents would help with its harvesting. Without their help the harvest would have perished."
The cotton monopoly in the fields of Uzbekistan ended on Oct. 20 when President Karimov signed the decree “On Measures for the Optimisation of Planted Areas and on an Increase in the Production of Food Cultures,” which will alter future agricultural production in Uzbekistan significantly.