Some experts, who recently conducted studies on various aspects of child labour in Malawi, have faulted government for weak enforcement of anti-child labour laws.
They say the situation is slowing progress to end the problem.
One of the research papers prepared by Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company legal counsel Martha Mwangonde and presented at the National Child Labour Conference in Lilongwe this week also says poverty and culture remain the main factors pushing children into early employment and exploitation.
â€œWe have weak enforcement of child labour laws. There are a number of pieces of legislation which should be able to deal with the issue of child labour in Malawi. However, enforcement of these laws is hindered by low levels of resources among the law enforcement agencies,â€ reads the paper in part.
In the tobacco sector, Mwangondeâ€™s paper says enforcement of anti-child labour laws is failing because of fewer farmers who grow tobacco under direct contractual arrangements with tobacco buyers.
â€œAll other farmers have to sell their tobacco directly through the auctions floors. This prevents tobacco companies from â€¦ monitoring labour practices in the largest amount of farms.
â€œThe general legal infrastructure creates several loopholes and makes it difficult to enforce a proper respect of the labour laws,â€ says Mwangonde.
Some of the laws Malawi has to help fight child labour include Article 23 of the Constitution which provides for protection of children from economic exploitation; the Employment Act which sets the minimum age for admission to employment, and the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act.
Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) president Luther Mambala also bemoaned weak enforcement of anti-child labour laws and policies, saying MCTU has been pushing for full implementation of the laws.