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Panel urges Centre to set up ITO to protect farmers

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M.S. Swaminathan
M.S. Swaminathan

Staff Reporter

Proposed body will protect farmers from unfair trade practices

MALAPPURAM: The National Commission on Farmers, chaired by the renowned agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, has asked the Centre to set up an Indian Trade Organisation (ITO) to protect farmers from the vagaries of international market.

Dr. Swaminathan, who has been undergoing treatment at P.S. Varier Arya Vaidya Sala at Kottakkal, near here, told presspersons on Saturday that setting up of the ITO, modelled on the World Trade Organisation (WTO), was one of the key recommendations made by the commission in its latest report submitted to the Government.

Dr. Swaminathan said the proposed ITO could protect farmers from unfair trade practices. India should set up own boxes for domestic agricultural support on the model of the WTO's blue, green and amber boxes. Currently, 93 per cent of the Indian farm produce was being consumed locally. With a large home market, the ITO would be able to protect farmers from the harmful effects of world market, he said.

Dr. Swaminathan also suggested setting up of a `national land use advisory service,' linked to the ITO, to advise farmers.

He said the report suggested special attention in five areas in order to revive Indian agriculture. Paying special attention to soil health, better water management, easy credit and insurance, better technology and production-oriented marketing were the key factors in the report. It had recommended water harvesting and mandatory aquifer recharge. It suggested that farmers be given loans at four per cent interest, which could be linked to insurance. Insurance literacy was also recommended. The current year should be observed as Year of Agricultural Renewal, he added.

Dr. Swaminathan said all panchayats should train a man and a woman each as farm science managers. Agricultural revival could not be fragmented. It should be made Panchasheel. "This is no time to relax; no time for complacency," he said.

He recommended 60,000 lab-to-land demonstrations to help farmers as part of the 60th anniversary of India's Independence next year.

Dr. Swaminathan stressed the importance of evolving a national policy for farmers.

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