WTO: UN specialised agency backs India's stand on food security

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New Delhi, Aug 4: Supporting India's tough stand at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the food security issue, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) on Monday said that ensuring food for its people is more important than creating jobs in other nations. "Creating jobs for some other country, while people are still hungry, doesn't make sense... If I was in the position of feeding my own family or creating jobs for someone else, what would I do? What would you do?," IFAD president Kanayo Nwanze told PTI.

"The bottom line is that every government has the responsibility to ensure that it can feed its own people," he said, while replying to a question whether he supports India's tough stand at the WTO. Echoing similar sentiments, IFAD's country director for India Nigel Brett said India has a big task to feed its people. India decided last week not to ratify the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) without any concrete movement towards finding a permanent solution to its public food stock-holding issue for food security purposes.

It has asked the WTO to amend the norms for calculating agriculture subsidies in order to procure food grain from farmers at a minimum support price and sell that to the poor at cheaper rates. Current WTO norms limit the value of food subsidies at 10% of the total value of food grain production.

India asked the WTO to amend the norms for calculating agriculture subsidies

However, the support is calculated at the prices that are over two decades old. India is asking for a change in the base year (1986-88) for calculating the food subsidies. It wants the change to a more current base year on account of various factors such as inflation and currency movements. There are apprehensions that once India completely implements its food security programme, it could breach the 10% cap.

Breach of the cap may lead to the imposition of hefty penalties if a member country drags India to the WTO. Nwanze is on a five-day official visit to India to meet various ministers, including Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Union Rural Development minister Nitin Gadkari, to discuss rural transformation and gender empowerment and how they are vital for reducing poverty. IFAD, a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established as an international financial institution to finance agricultural development projects for food production in the developing countries.


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