Every year, tens of thousands of seasonal workers migrate to agriculture production areas across Türkiye to harvest crops ranging from apricots, hazelnuts, and grapes to cumin, sugar beets, and roses.
Most seasonal workers are from southeastern Türkiye and travel as family groups moving from crop to crop for six to eight months a year. Often, children work alongside their migrant parents, contributing to the household income, but at the expense of their personal development.
Other labor challenges, especially those related to responsible recruitment, abound. Labor contractors often promise migrant workers not only wages but also transportation, food, and accommodation, only to deduct the substantial latter costs directly from the workers’ take-home pay. Some workers have reported verbal and psychological abuse, lack of social security, and long hours while working under the labor contractors’ agreements.
Through its series of Harvesting the Future projects, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and partners in business, agriculture, civil society, and the Turkish government are working to create large-scale change on child protection and responsible recruitment through a multi-commodity, multi-company, and multi-geography approach.
Harvesting the Future
The initial phase of Harvesting the Future, launched in August 2019, focused on improving the capacity of project partners to tackle issues related to responsible recruitment that seasonal migrant workers face in the agriculture sector; promoting adherence to national and international norms protecting migrant workers; and increasing the coordination and implementation of responsible recruitment principles in companies’ supply chains.
Activities included mapping supply chains for key commodities to develop a shared understanding of agricultural supply chains in Türkiye; plotting agriculture production cycles, seasonal calendars, activities, hazardous work, and more to accurately identify major risks, including the rise of child labor; and helping suppliers and companies establish robust social compliance and sustainability management programs.
By the end of 2020, 20 suppliers had mapped their upstream supply chains, covering 746 small producers. Twelve of the suppliers launched child labor monitoring and remediation programs, and companies and suppliers developed a shared commitment priority issues to be actively addressed during the next phase of the Harvesting the Future project.
Harvesting the Future: Access to Remedy
The second phase of the project, Harvesting the Future: Access to Remedy, launched in June 2021 to tackle major labor risks identified during the original Harvesting the Future Project.
It focuses on ensuring child protection and child labor remediation; eliminating hazardous work for those under 18 years old; improving access to basic services for seasonal migrant agricultural families; strengthening responsible recruitment and grievance mechanisms; and exploring the application of living wage standards in select commodities in Turkey.
To date, the project has mapped 174 small producers, 46 labor intermediaries, and 3,180 workers, and trained 45 buyer and supplier staff and 27 labor intermediaries on key project areas. In addition, 11 suppliers developed child labor policies aligned with international standards, seven suppliers initiated farm-level monitoring, and 17 intermediaries registered with the local Turkish Employment Agency.
Harvesting the Future: Rose
In January 2023, Harvesting the Future was expanded to cover Türkiye’s rose sector for an initial two-year period lasting through December 2024. The project seeks to improve human rights and labor conditions in Türkiye’s rose sector, focusing on empowering seasonal agricultural workers and their families.
The project brings together a range of stakeholders, including the Turkish government, civil society organizations, processors, producers, and beauty and fragrance companies, aiming to support and inform companies in establishing and advancing human rights due diligence systems in their supply chains, and garner local stakeholder engagement.