Pawar writes to PM protesting anti-farmer export policy

Sharad Pawar
New Delhi, Apr 11: Irked by curbs on milk, cotton and sugar exports, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stating that the government's policies are hurting farmers who are being asked to subsidise the industry.

Pawar wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday, a day after group of ministers disallowed cotton export beyond 13 million bales for the current marketing year. He strongly criticised Food Ministry headed by KV Thomas and the Textile Ministry under the charge of Anand Sharma for the policies which are "ambivalent" and go against farmers.

Describing restriction on cotton exports as "retrograde", the NCP chief said: "Indian cotton farmers should not be asked to bear the burden of subsidising the textile mills. Compromising the interest of small cotton farmers to benefit the textile magnates is indeed a travesty of justice. Moreover, it defies logic to permit the consumer of cotton (textile industry) to dictate terms to cotton producer...".

Similarly, he said the "negative approach" of the Food Department in allowing sugar exports has led to heavy losses in export earnings which could have been used to clear cane arrears to farmers that have crossed Rs 8,000 crore. Pawar told the Prime Minister, "On numerous occasions I have discussed with you the need to have farmer-centric agriculture policy...On each of these occasions, I have found you in consonance with these ideas. "However, despite this our government has time and again taken a decision which go against the interest of the farming community and adversely impacts its growth and stability".

High input cost and low realisation from his produce has pushed the farmer into a corner where he fights for his survival, he said, underscoring the need for a free trade regime to ensure a remunerative prices to farmers.


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