How Much Child Labor in the World Is Due to Cotton Manufacturing?

Would it surprise you to know that there are countries that sanction child labor during cotton harvesting season? Given this fact and the fact cotton is one of the world’s most in-demand crops, it’s no wonder how much child labor in the world is due to cotton production and harvesting.

Countries that allow child labor during harvesting season include Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China.1 They allow this in order to meet quotas and demands from the worldwide industry. A Human Rights Watch article exposed Uzbekistan, in particular, for its government forcing all ages to stop their regular work or activities and contribute to cotton harvesting.2

Cotton picking is laborious work, and cotton is the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crop in the world, which means anyone picking cotton is likely exposed to a high level of chemicals. There are also many other risks.

Certi-Pik, a United States cotton picker parts manufacturer, reports these hazards in the industry:


  • Entanglement with moving parts
  • Crush injuries
  • Running over other workers
  • Tipping or rolling picker
  • Falls
  • Electrocution
  • Fire and burns
  • Machinery collision
  • UV or solar radiation
  • Exposure to loud noises3

These warnings are for adults in the United States, which has some of the best labor laws and tools available. Now imagine what it’s like for a child in a developing country where they are forced to participate in cotton picking. It’s hot, uncomfortable and full of danger. Yet there are millions of children working the cotton industry every year.

Even if a child isn’t forced to work, there are still millions of families worldwide who make the difficult decision for their children to enter the workforce to survive. Without any other options, skills or literacy, these laborers can typically only obtain day labor jobs like cotton picking or weaving as a means to support their families.

GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program offers an alternative that such families really need. A sponsor commits to give $35 per month, which provides essentials such as food, clean water, school assistance and compassionate care for a child and their family. This kind of intervention and assistance can be the difference between health and illness, hope and hopelessness, a bright future and no future at all.

You can be the difference in helping to prevent child labor for a child in need by sponsoring a child today. A boy or girl will go to school, do their homework, run and play because of you. GFA World wants to see families healthy and whole, not slaves to industries that do not care for basic human rights. Send the love of Jesus Christ across the world today as a child sponsor.

Learn more about causes of child labor

1 “Forced and Child Labor in the Cotton Industry.” World Vision Australia. 2012. https://www.worldvision.com.au/docs/default-source/buy-ethical-fact-sheets/forced-and-child-labour-in-the-cotton-industry-fact-sheet.pdf?sfvrsn=2.
2 “We Can’t Refuse to Pick Cotton.” Human Rights Watch. July 27, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/06/27/we-cant-refuse-pick-cotton/forced-and-child-labor-linked-world-bank-group#.
3 “Top 10 Cotton Picking Hazards and How to Prevent Them.” Certi-Pik USA. July 2017. https://certipik.com/2017/07/top-10-cotton-picking-hazards-and-how-to-prevent-them/.
* Cover Photo by ILO Asia-Pacific. https://flickr.com/photos/iloasiapacific/8763356206/