The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

It would be mutually beneficial for farmers in the West to recruit agricultural interns from Africa

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/14/2012 Category: Economics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,961 times Debate No: 28218
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




Farmers in Europe and America are always complaining that they are not rich enough: they say this is partly because the relatively high cost of farm labour in the West makes their produce uncompetitive in the global marketplace.

Meanwhile in Africa farmers struggle to produce enough food even to meet local demand, mainly because the natives are not familiar with the modern farming techniques that are employed in the West to increase productivity and improve yields.

With this being the case, it would make perfect sense for farmers in the West to import agricultural interns from Africa who, in return for unpaid labour on their farms, would acquire valuable knowledge and skills which they could take back to Africa with them once they have worked long enough to repay the debt they owe the farmer who sponsored their trip.

Naturally, farmers must be entitled to protect their investments from agricultural intern-rustlers by housing their horticultural trainees in secure accommodation and by giving them unique tattoos to identify their sponsors, thus deterring unscrupulous rural neighbours from luring agricultural interns away by offering them alternative work placement opportunities on their own farms.

But the real winners will be the people of Africa - the agricultural interns only have to reimburse the Western farmer's expenses: the shipping costs; the agricultural intern-trader's recruitment fees; the ongoing cost of providing the intern with food and shelter, plus the customary administration charges, with interest added to the debt as appropriate, before they will be free to work their passages back to their homelands where they will be able to pass on their knowledge of Western agriculture to help develop their local farming industries.

That's why I believe that it would be mutually beneficial for farmers in the West to recruit agricultural interns from Africa.

Thank you.


So I first want to say I chose this argument because I love debating radical ideas. Now, I'm REALLY hoping that you're just having fun with this debate and it is not created due to your lack of understanding the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, but nonetheless I will argue it from a stand of it being serious.

I'd like to address a few points in your argument in turn.

1. African farmers don't meet the demand for a multitude of reasons. Not just limited knowledge, in fact that is a very small part as there are multiple NGOs that specialize in this, including The One Acre Fund and Hands Up Africa. Both of these organizations provide not only knowledge but also equipment for farming, a much more needed asset. Many of the problem are not due to supply and demand but due to war, oppressive governments, and lack of funds to purchase and maintain proper equipment. None of these things are solved by your system.

2. Unpaid labor interns, that must pay their way back. Well, while interns are a often used form of labor by college students and low-level employees, the requirement of them paying debts to the farmers is highly illegal. Paying a low level of wage is something that used to be called "indentured servitude" people getting paid very little to pay off their passage to America or other places. However, importing "interns" and charging "shipping costs" and other fees without any payment to them as you state "unpaid labour" is what is known as slavery.

3. Marking the "interns" with tattoos, that's fairly inhumane as it is indicating that they are essentially property...slaves.

4. I see no way that the people of Africa will win in this situation. By reducing the cost of Western crops, it would allow them to export much more therefore flooding the African markets which are quite small anyway. Governments over there would not support local farmers that would require enormous overhead costs to get all the equipment needed and setting up the farms themselves, they would rather just import. Then after all the costs that your slavery imposed upon them, if they ever did get back to Africa, they would never be able to afford running a farm.

Your argument is inherently flawed from the start and there is no substance behind this being a plausible idea, let alone the fact that it is a means of trying to circumvent the 13th Amendment.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Canadian-in-Florida for accepting this debate and for posting such eloquent rebuttals, to which I duly respond as follows:

1. While it is true that Africa faces some serious problems beyond lack of technical know-how, it is nevertheless very important that the efforts existing NGO's are making to help develop agriculture in the region are enhanced by not only a trained workforce, which can be built up locally, but also an experienced workforce of former agricultural interns returning from their work placements in the West.

2. My opponent, quite rightly, compared agricultural internships with the most widely used method of enslaving people today: bonded labour. According to Anti-Slavery International "bonded labour, or debt bondage, has existed for hundreds of years. In South Asia it is rooted in the caste system and flourishes in agriculture, in cottage industries, and in factories. Debt bondage was also used as a means of trapping indentured labourers into working on plantations in Africa, the Caribbean and South-East Asia, following the abolition of the slave trade."

Bonded labour has fallen out of favour in the West over recent times but the International Labour Organisation estimates "a minimum 11.7 million are in forced labour in the Asia-Pacific region, the majority of whom are in debt bondage."

Bonded labour is illegal in most developing countries, but the practice remains widespread because the law is rarely enforced. Similarly, the unpaid graduate internships that are commonplace in the West, especially within large companies and investment banks, are technically illegal because the interns are unpaid and, therefore, do not receive the statutory minimum wage.

Notwithstanding, the law is not generally enforced, indeed, the British Government even has an online portal which puts candidates in touch with 'employers' offering unpaid internships, where the worker (or more usually his or her parents) pays his or her own travel and living expenses but receives no income.

So what's the difference between an unpaid agricultural intern and a bonded labourer? If a bonded labourer is a "slave" then so is an "intern", wether it be a graduate or an agricultural intern.

Regarding the issue of debt, whereas a graduate intern would normally borrow money from the Bank of Mum and Dad to pay living expenses, an agricultural intern borrows the money from the farmer - unless he is a particularly fortunate young African who has parents rich enough to pay for his trip overseas to study Western agriculture.

3. Think of it this way, lots of people voluntarily obtain tattoos that identify them: most notably members of criminal gangs; but others proudly display tattoos of their favourite sporting teams, car or bike manufacturer or other popular affiliations - and for the agricultural their tattoo will represent a permanent souvenir of their trip to the West and best of all it's for free!

4. The reduction in the cost of Western crops would not necessarily lead to the African market being flooded with cheap food, but even if did this might be a good thing for the many people living on that continent that are malnourished.

More likely, the reduction in the cost of food production in the West would have one or more of the following affects:

a) The resulting increase in Western farmers' profit margins would reduce the need for state-funded agricultural subsidies, and these savings could be diverted to state aid for Africa which could be used to buy agricultural machinery.
b) Lower food production costs in the West would mean that Western wholesalers would no longer import food from Asia where bonded labour is used to produce cheap crops. This would mean, for example, that rice produced in America would be as cheap as rice produced in India and American farmers could compete on a level playing field (or paddy field as the case may be). Again, this would lower prices, increase profits and reduce the need for state subsidies, thus allowing funds to be diverted to Africa.

Of course, if some farmers were unscrupulous enough to exploit their interns by imposing unreasonable financial burdens on them, then charities could step in to pay off their debts: this would be a much more efficient way of helping Africa than channelling donations through corrupt regimes that skim money off to fund the lavish lifestyles of ruthless tyrants and their cronies.

So, in conclusion, my agricultural internships would be good news for Western farmers, consumers and taxpayers plus Africans in general - in fact the only losers would be corrupt African dictators.

Thank you.

Bonded Labour:
Unpaid Internships:
Government Intern Portal:


Apologies for the short reply, work got busy before the Christmas holiday and I lost track of time. I have 10 minutes to reply but I will try to get some in.

I understand the points that you are making with this, in regards to the NGOs and the bonded labour not being "enforced" however, I do not see how using people as unpaid labor then forcing them to repay the farmers with no income of their own (as you stated they're unpaid) is not slavery, nor is it ethical or worthwhile for them.

You state in point #2 that they're in debt like a college intern to the bank or mom and dad but those college interns or graduates make money little or a lot they get paid, you specifically stated "unpaid" therefore it negates that ability to pay back and flaws the argument. If you said minimal payment it is slightly understandable but you did not say that.

Voluntary vs. forced tattoo is completely different. Do victims of the holocaust see their tattoos as souvenirs of a historic tragedy? No. This would just be another means of degrading people into a commodity rather than a person.

Overall this idea is flawed, to truly assist those in Africa or other developing places , NGOs make the most use and while not particularly highly effective, it is the best option we have short of actual government intervention. This system my opponent suggests is re-legalizing slavery, however it is sugar coated, we already complain about mnimal pay for child labour in places, this is unpaid.
Debate Round No. 2
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by babyy 5 years ago
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Posted by Canadian-In-Florida 5 years ago
I agree I did argue weakly in the second round. I apologized for that as I g tied up in personal matters and logged in with only 10min to post my argument.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
I think the debate is an inspired idea, in that it forces consideration of what is really wrong with slavery. Pro should have pushed the idea that starving Africans would be better off as slaves than dying in Africa -- a lost opportunity. Con argued rather weakly. He could have argued correctly that slavery fails both as an economic idea and as being a human rights violation. Still, it doesn't take really strong arguments to overcome Pro-slavery.

The U.S.constitution is not an argument against a "should" resolution. If something should be done then the Constitution should be amended to allow it. It could be argued that the Constitutional prohibition works well.

Indentured servitude was prohibited in the original Constitution because it was being used to get colonists from England. The provision makes all employment contracts unenforceable in the U.S. If a zillion-dollar sports star wants to quit a team, he can do so. However, he cannot then offer his sports skills to another team. He can go home and bake cookies if he chooses.
Posted by Canadian-In-Florida 5 years ago
I was hoping that you were coming from a satirical or fun premise on this one. And I understand the frame of reference issues, however, there are similar laws in your country and other western countries.
Posted by brian_eggleston 5 years ago
I am just having a bit of fun with this debate, but not so long ago the issue of forced labour was a serious topic of debate, and that's why I want explore the issues surrounding it today.

BTW, I am British so the American Constitution will not be my primary reference in my defense, that's why I cited "Western" rather than "American" farmers in my opening argument.
Posted by Cometflash 5 years ago
I like the idea to much, so I can't even imagine going against this.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's case for slavery is nonsense, of course. con could have made a better case for fundamental human rights than he did, but he did well enough by pointing out that an unpaid worker cannot repay debts. Since the "interns" can never leave, there is no benefit to Africa.