When it comes to the use of child labor to help bring in Tajikistan’s
cotton crop, the government’s heart may be in the right place. Officials in Dushanbe have tried to prohibit the practice. But practical circumstances in the impoverished Central Asian nation mean that children are still found out in the fields during the harvest season.
The cotton sector in Tajikistan appears caught in a downward spiral, and the child-labor issue is but one of many problem areas. Antiquated infrastructure hampers innovation and productivity, while a drop in global demand has ensnared many farmers in a debt trap. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Local officials also seem to be captives of Soviet-style thinking: in many rural areas, political bosses continue to use their clout and allocate precious state resources to prop up the cotton sector, despite decreasing yields and an escalating food crisis. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
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