Deutsche Welle Russian service features a snapshot of current conditions and analysis of Uzbekistan's forced child labor in cotton by Uzbek sociologist Alisher Ilkhamov. Key point:
...forced child labor is itself a symptom of deep structural problems in agriculture. Amongthe primary ones is the strict centralization of the cotton sector in Uzbekistan, nearly to the same degree as it was under Soviet rule. Farmers cannot decide what they will sow in their fields; they sell their produce [to the state] at a price the state determines, which are artificially low, and so therefore farmers cannot pay adults [to harvest cotton] or invest in processing of cotton or other agricultural products.
This is a key observation, though it is not news to those who are familiar with conditions in the country. The World Bank cites "state interference" in the sector as a key developmental challenge, and reminds us that "Although the gap between the state order and export parity price for the cotton has narrowed by about 10 percentage points between 2004 and 2006, the state order price remains well below the export parity prices and similar prices in the neighboring countries." Why then are development organizations active in the country not more critical of these problems, and of the forced child labor that stems from them. The World Bank's country information, incidentally, doesn't mention FCL at all...