Explained: Why sugarcane farmers are protesting against Brazilian President as chief guest on R-Day
New Delhi, Jan 22: Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro will be the chief guest on Republic Day 2020 and will also explore ways to boost trade ties. This will be the third time that India has invited a Brazilian leader as the chief guest at the country's Republic Day event
The politician, known as Brazil's Donald Trump, was sworn in on New Year's Day 2019. Bolsonaro is notorious for making racist, sexist and homophobic comments, and is pro-gun.
However, the decision to invite Brazilian President as the chief guest has been criticised by the All India Sugarcane Farmers' Federation (AISFF).
#GoBackBolsonaro was launched by the Federation of Sugarcane Producers of India and has the support of All India Kisan Sabha, the largest farmers lobby in the country, founded in 1936.
He is turned out to be a direct threat to more than five crore farming families in India who grow sugarcane.
Brazil fears Indian sugar exports could undercut Brazil's global prices
Brazil, the world's largest sugarcane producer, along with Australia and Guatemala had moved the World Trade Organisation against India objecting to the fair and remunerative price for sugarcane growers here. The country had alleged that India's sugar subsidies are inconsistent with global trade rules and distorting the sugar market. Also, Brazil pointed out that the Minimum Indicative Export Quota (MIEQ) fixed for sugar mills was increased from two million tonnes in 2017-18 to five million tonnes in 2018-19, and claimed that it aids in building a global sugar surplus, which is ultimately affecting the farmers and millers of their respective countries.
In its complaint, the Brazilian trade ministry said "suspicion is that Indian domestic support (to farmers) and its subsidies to sugar exports caused significant impacts in the sugar market in a context of falling prices and decreasing production in the main centers Brazil, China and Thailand".
WTO investigation over sugar subsidies
However in the month of October, pursuant to the complaint, the WTO issued a press statement notifying an adjudicatory dispute settlement body to discuss the complaint "India - Measures Concerning Sugar and Sugarcane".
Under the WTO rules (Article 6 of the Agreement on Agriculture), India is permitted to offer a product-specific AMS (Aggregate Measurement of Support) for sugarcane up to 10% of the total value of production of cane.
India had maintained that its subsidies are in line with the WTO rule. The Indian sugar industry is suffering from various hurdles from last two to three years, and to bring the sector out of the crisis, the government had introduced various measures like soft loan scheme, hike in minimum selling price, scrapping of export duty, 100 per cent rise in import duty, hike in sugarcane price and others.
Even Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna leader and former MP Raju Shetti has stated that if India signs an agreement with Brazil related to sugar, biodiesel and ethanol, it will directly affect the sugarcane farmers from 18 states of the country.
N K Shukla, general secretary of AISFF said that the Narendra Modi-led BJP government instead of protecting the interests of farmers, is rolling out the red carpet for the Brazilian President whose government is seeking to destroy the livelihoods of sugarcane farmers.
It should be noted that India's sugar production has fallen sharply by 30.22 per cent to 7.79 million tonne in the first three months of current marketing year ending September.