Diagnostic Study of Child Labour in Rural Area, with Special Emphasis on Tobacco Farming

Team Member: Joseph Natanael Marshan, Cecilia Marlina, Hafiz Arfyanto, Veto Tyas Indrio, Rezanti Putri Pramana, Elza Elmira , Stella Aleida Hutagalung
Completion Year:
Jawa Timur, Nusa Tenggara Barat
Children, Adolescence & Youth, Labor & Migration, Urban & Rural Development

Collaborating Partners

Donor :

Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco-Growing (ECLT) Foundation


Technical partner :

  • Lembaga Pengkajian Masyarakat dan Pembangunan (LPKP)
  • Santai (Yayasan Tunas Alam Indonesia) 

Description & Progress

This study aims to identify the contributing factors and root causes impacting child labour in tobacco-growing areas, and to provide a representative situation of children and/or youth working in agriculture and on small-scale tobacco farms in Indonesia. 



According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), tobacco is grown in at least 120 countries, employing approximately 40 million workers in tobacco growing and leaf processing alone. While global estimates on the number of children employed in the tobacco farming sector are often lacking and/or rare, there are some individual country studies which have indicated that a significant number of children aged 7–18 years participate in tobacco agriculture, in a wide variety of tasks, which may differ based on the local farming, the labour context, as well as national child labour legislation. Typical children’s activities in tobacco growing have included planting, harvesting as well as handling (e.g., bundling) tobacco leaves.

There does exist key data at the company level on the situation of child workers among a select group of farmers, especially within a company’s supply-chain, but the information from a sectoral perspective in Indonesia remains scarce. Therefore, a broader survey on child labour in agriculture, with a priority on tobacco growing areas, has been recommended and is considered to be of value.

In general, this study addresses the main question of “What are the potential sustainable solutions to address child-labour issues in agriculture sector, especially in small-scale tobacco farms?”

In answering this main question, this study will be directed to answer the following detail questions:

  • What is the situation of child labour in agriculture, especially in small-scale tobacco farms? (in terms of the prevalence, the type of work that they are engaging, the exposure to hazardous environment, the economic value of their work to their household, and their access to education, health services, and social protection programs)
  • What are the root-causes of child labour in small-scale tobacco farms, and what factors have contributing to this problem? (including the push and pull factors and awareness)
  • What resources are available and/or have the potential to be leveraged to help address the root causes and support awareness-raising efforts on child labour


Research Area

The study will be conducted in two districts—one in East Java Province, and the other in West Nusa Tenggara Province. The sample districts are selected purposefully through ongoing consultation with stakeholders (government at provincial, district, and kecamatan level, NGOs, and the members of ECLT) after taking into account the land area and type of tobacco farming and the profile of child labor at the district level.


Methodology and Data

The term “children”, which will be the focus of this study, is defined as population aged below 18 years old—following Indonesia’s Child Protection Law (Law number 23, 2002 and amended by Law number 35, 2014). Regarding the definition of child labour, this study will be in principal using ILO’s definition used in the 2009 ILO-BPS survey of child labour in Indonesia, which defines child labour as: (i) all working children aged 5–12, regardless their working hours; (ii) working children aged 13–14 working more than 15 hours per week; and (iii) working children aged 15–17 worked more than 40 hours per week.

The data collection and analysis will be using a mixed methodology that combines qualitative and quantitative/participatory approaches. The qualitative study will be complemented with quantitative analysis using secondary datasets (Susenas 2015 and Supas 2015) and primary data collected through questionnaire-based surveys. The primary data collection will cover a total of around 1,000 agricultural households (500 households in each district).


Research Findings:

This study found a high prevalence of child labour in tobacco growing, and most child labourers are exposed to hazardous works with only a very small proportion of them using protective equipment. They are mostly still enrolled in school, although the proportion of early school leavers tends to be higher in the older age group. However, child labour in tobacco growing is a seasonal phenomenon, and it reaches the peak during the harvest season. The probability of becoming a child labourer is significantly higher among older children, children from farm labour households, and those living in dusun (a dusun is an administrative area within a village, consisting of a number of RT) with a high prevalence of child labour. Meanwhile, neither land ownership nor contract status significantly reduces the probability of children’s involvement in tobacco growing.

A deeper contextual analysis has uncovered that the high prevalence of child labour in the study villages is rooted in the local norms and customs which perceive child involvement in tobacco growing as a positive and necessary part of educating children about farming and about taking responsibility. On the other hand, the existing regulations also lack a detailed description about the types of works in tobacco growing that are considered hazardous. In addition, a combination of the following factors pushed children to become child labourers: (i) the lack of awareness and knowledge of the negative impact of becoming a child labourer and exposure to hazardous works, (ii) the lack of facilities which provide children with the opportunity to engage in other activities, and (iii) the economic benefit for the household and the children themselves. Meanwhile, the excess demand for labour during tobacco harvesting season has also attracted many children to work.


Diagnostic Study of Child Labour in Rural Areas (with Special Emphasis on Tobacco Farming)

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