Wage Discrimination and Underpayment in Hybrid Seed Production in India

Issues Fair Compensation

A recent study commissioned by FLA and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) found ongoing and rampant wage discrimination and underpayment of wages in hybrid vegetable and cotton seed production in India. The study, conducted by Dr. Davuluri Venketeswarlu and Jacob Kalle, was conducted in four Indian states where hybrid seed production is largely concentrated – Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Maharashtra – and involved interviews with nearly 500 workers on 200 seed farms and discussions with growers, civil society organizations, government officials and others. Key findings include:

  • On average, women workers earn less than men. Average wages in all four states are substantially lower for labor-intensive tasks such as cross-pollination, weeding and harvesting – which are traditionally carried out by women.
  • Children do some of the same work as adults on farms, but are paid less. 44 children under fourteen years old were interviewed.  They are paid on average 10-20% less than women completing the same tasks.
  • No significant difference in wages were found between farms producing seeds for national and multinational companies. About 37.5% of the sample farms in the study were producing seeds for multinational companies.
  • Legal minimum wages are often not paid to workers. For example, the average daily wage for women tasked with sowing, weeding and harvesting is between 5-48% lower than the legal minimum wage in different states.