Farmers' leader seek India to reject drafts on WTO

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New Delhi, June 11 (UNI) Ahead of a WTO mini-Ministerial meet in July for finalising drafts on Agriculture and Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA), the farmers' leaders today sought that India should reject these drafts which they say ''is an agenda of the rich countries push the developing nations into accepting a deal.'' They said that it will increase food insecurity as well as incur economic losses.

Around thirty farmers leaders, from all over the country, who held a day-long marathon meeting, came out with a resolution that ''India should come out the WTO and should not sacrifice the livelihood of 800 million farmers, advasis, dalits and rural women''.

The July meet is accepted to pave way for an early completion of the contentious Doha Development Round. And the two drafts are the revised version of the July 2007 agriculture and NAMA text, again surfaced on May 19, 2008, is ''less than full reciprocity'', that is, developing countries will need to reduce tariffs at a lower rate than the developed countries, the farmers leaders said in the resolution.

According to FICCI, a NAMA tariff reduction proposed for developed countries in the draft text is calculated at 30 per cent while that of India by more than 60 per cent.

''India should not dilute its position at the WTO negotiations as the 'special products' (SP) and Special Safeguard Measures (SSM) offered to us, are only a smokescreen and offers no real protection to Indian agriculture, fisheries and forestry,'' the resolution underlined.

Mr Vijay Jawandia from Shetkari Sanghtana, Mharashtra said, ''any compromise by the Indian government will jeopardise the future of farming.'' Mr Malla Reddy, President of Andhra Pradesh Raitu Sangha said ''the import of edible oils at low duties has destroyed millions of oilseeds farmers in AP.'' Mr Basavaraj Ingin from Karnataka said the removal of quantitative restrictions by India, has already played a havoc with the agriculture and ''these should be restored.'' Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) Punjab President Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said, ''the food basket of the country will become a begging bowl of India accepts inequitable agreement on agriculture.'' Meanwhile, Mr Yudhvir Singh of BKU also sounded the same sentiments and Mr N D Koli from National Fishworkers' Forum said the highly subsidised import of fish from Japan and Korea, had already reduced the livihood option for Indian fishermen.

The meeting organised by Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security and UNCTAD-India on ''WTO Negotiations: Protecting Livelihoods and Ensuring Food Secuirty' was presided over by eminent food analyist Devinder Sharma. It was attended by several representatives of civil society orgnisations, academia and food experts.

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