Agri Business

WTO meet: Farmers urge Govt not to yield to pressure for ‘unjust’ caps on subsidies

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on December 07, 2015

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‘Right to fix MSP to support farm livelihoods is non-negotiable’

Ahead of the World Trade Organisation’s 10th Ministerial in Nairobi from December 15-18, hundreds of big farmer organisations across the country have urged the government not to give in to pressure by rich nations to cap subsidies.

Farmers’ interest

In a resolution, Bharatiya Kisan Union, Fruit-Vegetable & Flower Growers Association, Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, All India Turmeric Farmers Association, Sugarcane Farmers Associatons of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, among others, who claim to represent 400 million farmers, demanded that farmer’s interests should at no instance and circumstances be compromised in the WTO negotiations.

Fixing MSP

“We understand that our government and many governments of the developing and least developed countries are being put under intense pressure by the developed countries to have ceilings on farm input subsidies, and to give away the safety nets such as the Special Safeguard Measures. We also understand that India, and hence its farmers, are being forced to give away their right to a fair compensation for their agricultural produce, by putting totally unjust caps on the Minimum Support Price (MSP), which for the Indian farmer has been a lifeline for decades,” said the resolution.

They said while the Indian farmer gets an average subsidy of only about ₹1,000/month, the average subsidy of a US farmer was at least ₹250,000/month.

Decrying the “high-handedness” of developed nations, led by the US and the European Union, the farmers urged India to ensure that farm subsidies of the rich countries were also brought back on the negotiating table at Nairobi.

US, EU subsidies

“Till the subsidies being doled out in US under the US Farm Bill and in the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy are removed, any abrupt conclusion of the Doha Round at Nairobi would be a betrayal of the developing country farmers,” they said, adding that they were “worried” about the way in which the MSP matter was being discussed in the WTO. “We wish to state that the right to fix MSPs according to rural development needs in India, the cost of production, ensuring food security and the need to support farm livelihoods should remain with us, and this is a non-negotiable position,” they said.

The matters of ‘Peace Clause’ and a permanent resolution to ‘food security’ concerns should also be resolved with full appreciation of our rural development needs, they added.

The resolution called for a shift in priority to “agricultural livelihoods” rather than simply looking at “agricultural trade”, and warned the government that “any move by our government or the WTO to compromise the lives and livelihood of farmers” will be “vehemently opposed.”

Published on December 07, 2015
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