Reject conditionalities on farm subsidy, farmers tell PM Manmohan Singh

Ahead of the WTO’s Bali meeting, farmers today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to reject “farcical conditionalities” of developed countries on farm subsidy and public stock holding

“reject any proposal that leads to dismantling of the famine-avoidance strategies; India cannot be forced to go back to the days of ‘ship-to-mouth’ existence”.

PTI Nov 14, 2013, 09.08PM IST
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-11-14/news/44075248_1_food-security-act-trade-facilitation-agreement-subsidy

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the WTO’s Bali meeting, farmers today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to reject “farcical conditionalities” of developed countries on farm subsidy and public stock holding saying these would jeopardise implementation of the Food Security Act.

Countries like the US and Canada have raised concerns over India’s food security legislation. They have asked India to explain the effect the legislation will have on global stocks and commodity prices.

“We demand pursual the G-33 (group of developing counties including India) proposal aggressively as the way forward and not accept the current proposal which effectively neutralises the peace clause with its farcical conditionalities,” farmers said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

The letter was signed by 15 unions including Bhartiya Kisan Union, National Fish Workers Forum, Bharti Kisan Union, BJP Kisan Morcha and Kerala Coconut Farmer’s Association.

The “peace clause” in WTO parlance gives legal security to member-countries and protects them from being challenged under other WTO agreements.

G-33 is demanding amendments to the Agreement on Agriculture under the WTO so that it can offer subsidies to farmers and meet its commitments under the Food Security Act.

As per the agreement, the subsidy cannot be more than 10 per cent of the total production. As food prices and the number of poor to be supported in developing countries have risen in the two decades since the pact was framed, these subsidies have gone up substantially.

India and other developing nations are apprehensive that once the food security law is fully implemented, its food subsidies will breach the 10 per cent mark and that is why they are demanding a waiver.

In case the limit gets infringed, a WTO member can drag India to the dispute settlement body and seek imposition of penalties.

The US is strongly opposing any kind of amendment to the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA).

Farmers demanded that India should stand against the US and EU and “reject any proposal that leads to dismantling of the famine-avoidance strategies; India cannot be forced to go back to the days of ‘ship-to-mouth’ existence”.

The unions have also asked to challenge the developed countries’ domestic and export subsidies.

“India should not trade-off its food security concerns and the livelihood security of millions of farmers against the trade facilitation agreement,” the letter said.

It said that the US has more than doubled its subsidy from USD 61 to USD 130 billion between 1995 and 2010, while EU’s subsidy hovers between 90-79 billion euros between 2006-2009.

India is implementing the Food Security Act which entitles 82 crore people to 5 kgs of foodgrain per person in a month at the rate of Rs 1-3 per kg. The country needs 62 million tonnes of foodgrain in a year to implement the law.

The 9th WTO Ministerial Conference will be held in Bali from December 3-6.

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