Special Correspondent

TIRUCHI: Political parties should ensure that at least 50 per cent of their candidates for the Lok Sabha elections belonged to the farming community so as to give adequate representation to the agriculture sector in the Parliament.

This was one of the major demands put forward at a consultative meeting of a group of farmers associations to discuss issues relating to agriculture policy here on Saturday. The meeting was organised by the Bharathiya Krishak Samaj (BKS) and was attended by representatives of various farmers associations including the United Farmers Association, Tiruchi District Cauvery Delta Farmers Association, the Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam and Federation of Farmers Associations of Tamil Nadu.

Only when people who depended on agriculture for their livelihood entered the Parliament that they could make a meaningful contribution in the formulation of policies with regard to food production and rural development, a resolution adopted at the meeting said.

The meet also called for evolving a national policy on the delivery of all agricultural subsidy to ensure that they were given directly to the farmers. This was essential to prevent pilferage and misuse of the huge sums spent every year on subsidies for the agriculture sector. The next Lok Sabha should take steps to free farmers from debt completely, by waiving all farm related credit of all banking institutions.

The associations demanded a complete ban on genetically modified seeds, food products and processes until a white paper was published by the government agencies on their positive and negative benefits. Trade related rights on agriculture products and innovations should not be given to any international agency or organisation which does not have any local affiliation. A mechanism should be created for checking all claims for intellectual property rights over farm products and innovations of farmers.

They called upon the State to reschedule the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme so as to ensure that the works taken up under it were not executed during the agriculture season.

D. Gurusamy, State President, BKS, C. Nallasamy, National Secretary, BKS, Diskshitar Balasubramanian and R. Rajaram of Tiruchi District Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, C. Vaiyapuri, President, United Farmers Association, R. Raja Chidambaram, State Secretary, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, A. Nagarajan, District President, BKS, P. Ayyakannu, State Secretary, Bharathiya Kisan Sangam, and others spoke.