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Addressing Human Rights Risks in Sugarcane in Mexico

In Mexico, a three-year program is underway with a sugarcane supplier. This program has enhanced the systems the supplier uses to manage key human rights risks in the fields, as well as increased access to and use of PPE.

Already, this work has:

  • Implemented a comprehensive monitoring system for child labor and forced labor risks that covers more than 3,000 sugarcane cutters
  • Reduced accident rates during sugarcane harvests by nearly 40%
  • Improved PPE access for over 2,500 sugarcane cutters

With expertise and support provided by Verité and Proforest, the supplier is building its systems and capability to monitor, address and prevent key human rights risks—including child labor and forced labor risks.

To increase collaboration, momentum and sector-wide action, we helped to found Alianza por la Sustentabilidad de la Agroindustria de la Caña de Azúcar en México (ASACAM), a coalition in Mexico that brings together sugarcane growers associations, global and local companies, and local governments. Through this platform, we are sharing learnings and supporting solutions across the sector.

One key area of work is raising awareness around ethical recruitment—the practices that can help reduce risks to workers who may be migrating or traveling for seasonal work. Through ASACAM, we have catalyzed and supported industry-wide training on ethical recruitment in Mexico, reaching 20 leading mills, growers associations and peer companies.

In total, more than 300 people attended learning sessions representing mills, government, producers associations, consultancies, academia, NGOs, farmers, and brands. This work builds on existing efforts in that region to deepen sugarcane suppliers’ ability to monitor, address and prevent a range of human rights risks in their sourcing areas.

We continue to expand this work across other at-risk sugarcane origins.