Two organisations representing the farmers and development practitioners here on Sunday called upon the Union Government to clarify its negotiating position vis-à-vis agriculture at the World Trade Organisation’s seventh ministerial meeting beginning in Geneva on Monday, saying an adverse agreement would undermine the livelihood of lakhs of farmers in the country.
The Kisan Seva Samiti Mahasangh and the Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants’ Society said in a joint statement that the developed countries should reduce their agricultural subsidies in real terms and increase the number of products to be designated as “special products” in view of diversity of crops.
Right to impose duties
Centre’s secretary Sharad Joshi said the developing countries signing the WTO agreement should have the right to impose duties to protect their domestic products. Pointing out the “lack of transparency” in this regard, he said the Union Government should consult farmers, workers and other sections of society directly affected by WTO. Judging from the WTO ministerial meeting held in New Delhi earlier this year, the mood of signatories at the Geneva ministerial, being organised from November 30 to December 2, seems to be in favour of reaching a binding decision and bringing the Doha Round to a conclusion.
Mr. Joshi regretted that though the Indian leaders had been talking about protecting the farmers’ rights, they were also accepting the previous draft of WTO’s agreement on agriculture (AoA) as the working draft.