HYDERABAD: Representatives of several farmers' organisations affiliated to various political parties on Sunday expressed concern over the growing control of multi-national corporations in the country's seed markets.
At a round-table initiated by the Kisan and Kheth Mazdoor Congress chairman M. Kodanda Reddy, Agriculture Minister N. Raghuveera Reddy said the country needed the technology offered by the MNC seed companies. However, it was also important to regulate their role in the markets and protect farmers from their strong-arm tactics.
“A few years ago, there were about 200 companies in the country producing cotton seed. Now there are just 15, because the rest have been bought over by MNCs. This is a dangerous phenomenon,” he stated. Of the eight suggestions made by the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy government, the Parliamentary Standing Committee has agreed to include six in the Seed Bill of 2004 which is yet to be passed.
The suggestions include higher compensation for farmers who do not get the yields promised by seed companies to be decided by a tribunal, compulsory licensing for distributors, strict regulation for MNCs in seed markets and a 30 per cent FDI cap in the sector.
Mr. Kodanda Reddy said the single-point agenda was to ensure farmers' welfare. It was time the Bill was passed by modifying the standing committee's recommendations.
Among participants were M.V. Rao, MLC, Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor B. Raghava Reddy and Agriculture Commissioner Sunil Sharma.
Leaders of farmers' organisations who expressed concern over neglect of ryots welfare included All-India Kisan Sabha vice-president Kolli Nageswara Rao, AP Ryotu Sangham president K. Ramakrishna, AP Rytu vice-president C. Ramakrishna, N. Venkateswara Rao of Telugu Rytu and G. Shourie of the Bharatiya Janata Kisan Morcha.