Farmers to march to Parliament on Aug 8 to press demands

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New Delhi, Jul 16 (UNI) Scores of farmers from northern states-- Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh-- will stage a protest march to Parliament on August 8 to press the Indian government for boycotting the WTO ministerial, enhancing the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops and restoring the Quantitative Restrictions(QRs) to check dumping of cheaper farm imports.

Adressing a joint-press conference here today, leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)- Mohinder Singh Tikait, Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and others from the four states -- said farming in India was on subsistence level and could not be treated on a par with commercial agriculture of the US and other rich countries, who heavily subsidise their crops.

Hence, any negotiation on agricultural issues at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by India would mean bartering away the interests of small and marginal farmers of the country, who were already under heavy debt and some of them were even driven to suicide.

The leaders opposed the passage of the Seed Bill, presently lying with Parliament, alleging that it was highly biased in favour of seed companies and would give the farmers their right to propogate their own seeds. The seed companies are attempting to introduce genetically engineered seeds, which will pollute the indigenous crop pattern, leaving the farmers completely dependent on GM technology and company seeds.

They also demanded the reintroducing of QRs to protect the Indian agriculture from cheap subsidised imports, ending the liberalisation of cotton, edible oils and food grain markets to provide renumerative prices to the Indian farmers, and to make farming a viable profession.

UNI SNG PY RN1908

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