WISH – Wage Improvements in Seed Hybrids

Public-private partnership

BASF, Syngenta, and Arisa joined hands in a multi-stakeholder collaboration called Wage Improvements in Seed Hybrids (WISH). WISH will address child labour issues and strive for minimum wage compliance in the vegetable seed sector in India.

The four-year project, cofounded with a grant from the Dutch Enterprise Agency (RVO), consists of two phases: Phase one focused on baseline survey research intended to better understand the current status of child labour and minimum wage issues in the seed production locations in India where BASF and Syngenta are active. Field data and cost of production data were independently analysed by Global Research and MV Foundation, two India-based organizations, with support from Arisa. Data also includes information from different companies operating in the survey locations other than BASF and Syngenta.

The research ultimately highlighted two key learnings that are playing a critical role in setting the strategy for phase two as well as informing key indicators to measure success for the project’s future results. 

The first learning focused on child labour and results from a household survey conducted within Indian farming communities. The survey highlighted that child labour is still widespread and directly linked to the issue of minimum wage compliance. In recent years, the number of children in child labour has dropped, a positive trend in part due to the efforts of the seed industry. But the findings of the household survey signal this is still an important issue to proactively continue addressing.

The second key learning focused on the absence of a minimum wage compliance in Karnataka and Maharashtra. Phase one research found that minimum wages in Karnataka are higher than in Maharashtra while the actual market wages are almost the same and in both cases below the minimum wages. This means the gap between prevailing market wages and minimum wages is bigger in Karnataka, an issue the project team wants to address more in depth with phase two.

Ready for WISH phase two 

WISH’s phase two will employ a range of instruments, from awareness raising, training and capacity building, to stakeholder engagement, networking and scaling up best practices, to advocacy on the local and international level. The project team’s goal is to implement meaningful change across multiple focus areas by 2025. 

Specific objectives include:

  • Improving legal minimum wage awareness with laborers and building their capacity in the vegetable seed sector.
  • Organizing stakeholder engagement and advocacy, warranting legal minimum wage awareness and compliance for all seed supply chain actors.
  • Improving cost of production calculation.
  • Improving private sector operations related to minimum wage compliance and involving international seed federations and other vegetable seed companies.
  • Managing and coordinating the project (WISH) to ensure sustained results in wage improvement and prevention of child labor in the hybrid seed sector after the project period.

Research report: https://arisa.nl/wp-content/uploads/Baseline-Survey-WISH.pdf

Contact: Bas Gorissen – bas.gorissen@basf.com

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