Amid the Government of Indonesia’s efforts to eliminate child labour, there is limited information regarding the condition of child labour in the country, especially in the tobacco sector. Against this background, this study investigates the condition and root causes of child labour in two of the largest tobacco producing kabupaten (districts) in Indonesia—Jember and Lombok Timur. Information was collected from children, parents, and relevant stakeholders and the study adopted a mixed-method of quantitative and qualitative approaches through a household survey covering 1,000 households in a total of 10 villages, as well as in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and photo elicitation interviews. The findings reveal a high prevalence of child labour in tobacco growing which is rooted in local norms and customs. Most of the child labourers are exposed to hazardous work where a very small proportion use protective equipment. The probability of becoming a child labourer is significantly higher among children from the older age group, farm labour households, and dusun (village administrative area) with high child labour prevalence. Neither land ownership nor contract status significantly reduces the probability of children’s involvement in tobacco growing. As existing regulations lack a detailed description about the hazardous types of work in tobacco growing, there is a lack of awareness and knowledge of the negative impact of becoming a child labourer and exposure to hazardous work. The economic benefit for the household and children to be involved in tobacco growing and the lack of facilities for children to engage in other activities also influence children to become child labourers. Additionally, excess demand for labour during tobacco harvesting season attracts many children to work. The study recommends measures to improve the national policy for the elimination of child labour in tobacco growing and initiate a pilot programme in Lombok Timur and Jember.
Keywords: child labour, tobacco growing, Jember, Lombok Timur