Photo: Sugarcane transportation. Credit @ Ultrakwang

The Sowing Rights, Harvesting Better Futures (SENDEROS) Project is a major, multi-year, cooperative agreement Verité is implementing with the U.S. Department of Labor and project partners AIR, World Vision, and Fundación Mexicana de Apoyo Infantil in Mexico. SENDEROS focuses on promoting adherence of supply chain actors in the sugarcane and tobacco sectors to national legislation and international standards on child labor, forced labor, occupational health, and safety, as well as other labor conditions.

The project works through a combination of technical assistance for the Government of Mexico, capacity building for private sector actors in the sugarcane and tobacco sectors, and rights awareness-raising and training for agricultural workers. In 2022, SENDEROS achieved significant progress across all three key strategies.

With the Mexican government, SENDEROS and implementing partner AIR worked to strengthen the national labor inspection system, through technical improvements to the Mexican Labor Inspection Case Management System (LICMS). Contributions included new functionalities to facilitate implementation of inspection activities in the agricultural sector and use of inspection information for decision-making and addressing priorities of agricultural workers.

On the private sector side, SENDEROS engaged with actors in five different supply chains in the sugarcane and tobacco sectors in Jalisco and Nayarit states (three in sugarcane and two in tobacco), reaching key stakeholders such as suppliers, mills, and growers’ associations. Throughout the year, SENDEROS provided trainings for private sector stakeholders on labor rights, child labor, forced labor, and due diligence topics. Overall, 45 representatives from the sugarcane and tobacco sectors were trained, 55% in the sugarcane sector, and 45% in the tobacco sector. In addition, SENDEROS helped improve private sector due diligence systems for preventing and addressing labor risks through support for building or updating codes of conduct, policies, and procedures for preventing and addressing labor risks such as forced labor through the implementation of ethical recruitment policies and practices.

Lastly, the SENDEROS project also provided direct assistance to farmworkers by increasing their access to information and resources for preventing and accessing remedy for labor issues. For providing services to agricultural workers, the SENDEROS Project partners with a team of local field promoters who work directly in the farmworker communities for both the sugarcane and tobacco sectors. Promoters are hired based on their ability to engage with rural workers and are trained on effective adult learning techniques, labor rights, and risks. During worker trainings conducted in March, April, and May of 2022, the project reached 479 agricultural workers (63.7% in sugarcane and 36.3% in tobacco); the trainings covered five topics: child labor, occupational safety and health, forced labor, and violence prevention on the work site.

To supplement the direct outreach to workers through trainings, SENDEROS also disseminates information on labor rights and related issues through three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In 2022, 30,000 persons have been reached through those channels.