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20,000 children work in Madagascar vanilla production

Published on Dec 5, 2012 6:09 AM

ANTANANARIVO (AFP) - Around 20,000 children aged 12 to 17 are working in the lucrative production of vanilla in Madagascar, the International Labour Organisation said on Tuesday.

"We have studied the northern region of Sava since 2009 and we have accounted for 20,000 children, around 31 to 33 per cent of the work force producing vanilla," ILO representative for the Indian Ocean Christian Ntsay told AFP.

Madagascar is the world's leading producer of vanilla, producing 60 per cent of global supply. The country's tropical northern Sava region is home to the bulk of production.

Mr Ntsay said cultural norms lay behind the use of child labour. One person involved in the sector, who asked not to be named, said the training of children was necessary to keep the skill alive. "The plantations are fragile, cultivating vanilla is complex," he said.

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