Report on Agricultural Workers and the right to food

16 July 2018
Special Rapporteur on the right to food
To the GA at its 73rd session


According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), an estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide are engaged in agriculture. This figure includes around 300-500 million waged workers. Unpaid family members including women, children and young adults further carry out agricultural work as unrecognized farm labour, often in plantation and in support of small-scale family farming. Large numbers of casual, seasonal and temporary workers, often migrants, are also engaged in agricultural work worldwide. Agricultural workers carry out a vital role in the global food production, yet they tend to be unable to access adequate nutritious food for themselves and their families.


This report outlines the key barriers to achieving the right to food for agricultural workers. It describes the main legal and institutional instruments relevant to the protection of the human rights of agricultural and food system workers. It outlines the responsibility of States in terms of guaranteeing these rights, including the right to a living wage and to decent and safe working conditions. The State is further responsible for monitoring the compliance with labour, environmental and human rights-legislation at both international and national levels.

The report also assesses the role of the private sector, including employers and agribusiness, and its responsibility to protect the right to food of agricultural workers. It further addresses the role of consumers in protecting agricultural workers.

The Special Rapporteur concludes the report with a series of recommendations based on human rights principles to States and to other stakeholders on how to improve the human rights situation of agricultural and food chain workers in the modernised, globalized current food system.


To prepare this report, the Special Rapporteur sent a questionnaire (English | Français | Español) to all States requesting for their main legal and institutional instruments providing for the protection of the right to food of agricultural workers.