At WTO, farmers’ fate is at stake

Saturday Apr 26, 2014

There should be a permanent solution to the food security programme, before moving on to the main agenda of the developed countries, namely the trade facilitation programme

Commerce minister Anand Sharma’s assurances on not making any compromise on India’s food security programme at the World Trade Organisation conference in Bali that begins Tuesday, while accepting the “four-year peace proposal” of the developed countries does not inspire confidence. It’s a trap, and Mr Sharma must make sure India doesn’t get ensnared into it. Once something is accepted, negotiating on it can be endless. This has rightly been opposed by the Opposition parties and many others. Under this proposal, India and other developing countries can breach the 10 per cent cap on subsidies under the Agreement on Agriculture for the coming four years with no objections from WTO.
Mr Sharma must understand this is a situation involving the livelihood of India’s 600 million farmers versus the farmers of the United States and Europe; and accepting the “peace proposal” means mortgaging the future of Indian farmers. The government has no right to do this without considering the views of other political parties, particularly as the Lok Sabha elections are just five months away.