Farmers' representatives oppose FDI in multi-brand retail sector

Representatives of major farmers' organisations who participated in a consultation with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail said on Saturday that they were “opposed'' to the entry of foreign players in the domestic sector.

They charged the government with “misquoting'' them in the media.

In a joint statement issued here, Navdanya, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, Organic Farming Association of India and Jagriti Agrotech asserted that their views were “contrary'' to what the government had attributed to them and this was clear from the position papers they put forward at the meeting on Friday. “Several of the groups that were represented in the discussions are actually opposed to FDI in retail and this is not just a matter of safeguards for farmers [as the government has projected].

“Such strategies emerging from the government to make FDI in retail acceptable will not work as the policy was unacceptable to many organisations, political parties and intellectuals.” The farmers' groups urged the government to drop the proposal completely.

“OFAI, ASHA and Navdanya had categorically opposed the move to introduce 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail sector in India and submitted a position paper to the government,'' said Nishank of ASHA.

According to PTI, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion P.K. Chaudhery had said in a statement after the meeting on Friday that farmer associations were “by and large supportive... they welcomed FDI into retail sector.''

The representative of Navdanya headed by Vandana Shiva said that despite their opposition, which was clearly stated at the meeting, “the government has issued a misleading statement that farmers were in favour of FDI in retail.''

Ashish Gupta of OFAI said: “The representatives of OFAI, Navdanya, ASHA and Jagriti Agrotech actually categorically stated at the meeting that they were not in favour of 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail. The opposite of this is being communicated to the public.''

The joint statement said they had conveyed to the government that 2.5 lakh farmers had committed suicide since 1997 and the advent of FDI in retail would only propagate industrialisation of agriculture resulting in a worse crisis.

The farmers' groups also pointed out that the monopolistic buying power of the large retailers would further weaken the marginal farmers' position, resulting in lower share of value to them, dictating of the production techniques and output by the larger retailers and destruction of diversity in Indian agriculture. “It was brought out during the discussions that this would result in loss of employment, increased risk to farmers, increased risk of price manipulation and total lack of a level playing field,'' they said.

The government put on hold the Cabinet decision of November 24 to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, under intense pressure from the Opposition parties and its own ally, the Trinamool Congress.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 2:38:58 PM |

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