A.P. government draws flak for co-sponsoring the World Agricultural Forum Congress

The World Agricultural Forum Congress and Trade Fair 2013 got off to an unexciting start on Tuesday amid concerns expressed by farmers’ organisations on the attempts by the multinationals to take over the sector employing scores of small and marginal farmers.

The State government drew flak from political parties like the BJP and the Left for promoting a business promotion event of multinationals while the Congress-supported Kisan Khet Mazdoor Congress faulted the exorbitant fee charged for farmer delegates.

Union Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar inaugurated the event instead of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Interestingly, the farmers’ conclave does not feature participation of agricultural scientists of repute like M.S. Swaminathan.

Mr. Tariq Anwar spoke at length about the benefits of contract farming claiming that the sector had the potential to change the face of Indian agriculture scenario in the coming years.

Illustrating his point, he compared the food grain production to poultry over comparable periods.

“The food grain production increased by 40 per cent in 2011-12 compared to 1993-94 but the corresponding increase in the production of eggs has been 166 per cent”, Mr. Anwar said.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy exhorted the delegates to evolve policies to attract youth, particularly the educated lot, back into farming.

“Unfortunately, no educated youth is interested in taking up the profession that meets the nation’s hunger, apart from contributing to the GDP”, he said.

WAF advisory board chairman James Bolger stressed the need for accepting technology including the GM food for meeting the growing demand.

Coupled with the climate change, the challenge for meeting the demand on food side was enormous, he said.

Even as the deliberations were under way, representatives of farmers’ organisations questioned the State government’s involvement in the event organised by a body of multinational companies.

BJP State president G. Kishan Reddy slammed the government for co-sponsoring the four-day event which no government had done so far.

The CPI (M) backed All India Agriculture Workers Union has organised parallel symposia and seminars for three days condemning efforts to promote contract and corporate farming.

Though the theme of the event was centred on small and marginal farmers, the effort was primarily to divert them from traditional practices to mechanisation, thereby, opening the prospect of making scores dependent on the trade jobless.