Syngenta partners with Fair Labor Association to improve wages in India’s agricultural industry

PR - 2020

New Delhi, 18 February 2020: Today, Syngenta highlights the release of a report from the Fair Labor Association, Seeds of Change. The report marks the culmination of a three-year pilot project commissioned by Syngenta to improve wages in India’s agricultural industry. Through the pilot with Fair Labor Association (FLA), Syngenta was able to improve wages at seeds field production growing areas in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The report details Syngenta’s six-step action plan to address the issue of low prevailing wages in India.

Actions included conducting an internal review of procurement prices and calculations, increasing awareness among internal and external stakeholders, and strengthening wage documentation.

Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan demonstrates the company’s commitment to look after every worker, striving for fair labor conditions across the entire supply chain network. “Our partnership with the FLA is a critical enabler of ensuring we take care of the safety and human rights of every worker in our supply chain,” said Bill Tomlinson, Head of Global Seeds Production & Supply. “Our efforts for fair labor conditions extend across the world, and we hold our suppliers and partners accountable to high standards of health, safety, environmental and working conditions.”

In addition, the project highlighted the importance of needing an industrywide approach to make a bigger impact than a single company acting alone.

Agricultural wages are often below the legal minimum wage of the country, an unfair fact that leaves many hard-working Indians living in poverty, said Dr K C Ravi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Syngenta India. He also said, “Findings show a company can make significant progress by taking action to understand and improve wages in its supply chains”.

“This report underscores the urgent need for collective action to lift agriculture workers in India out of poverty. No company can achieve this alone,” said Sharon Waxman, President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association. “Governments must create a legal framework to require wages that are above the poverty line, and companies need to work together – even in the absence of government leadership – to provide those wages. Only then can we lift millions of agriculture workers in India and around the world out of poverty.”

While the efforts of individual companies can make a difference, the report concludes that, in order to achieve sustainable progress, this challenge must be addressed as an industry, like the joint efforts made to combat child labor in seed production farms in India.

The Syngenta Seeds business currently sources from 12,000 farms in India, either directly or indirectly, and also works with 200 seeds organizers to communicate and manage relationships with farmers. Beyond India, Syngenta is actively engaged in fair labor initiatives across the world.

The complete Seeds of Change report can be found at the FLA’s website

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R Vaithiyanathan
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