Farmers’ leader poses question over the I2U2’s decision to create food parks in India

General Secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Yudhvir Singh said the organisation will “strongly” oppose the food agreement under the I2U2 grouping and argued that the decision will reduce farmers to landless peasants 

July 15, 2022 09:33 pm | Updated July 16, 2022 04:24 am IST - NEW DELHI

File photo of Yudhvir Singh.

File photo of Yudhvir Singh.

The country has an agricultural surplus and there is no need for the government to join hands with the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates for food production, said a senior representative of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Friday. Speaking to The Hindu, general secretary of BKU Yudhvir Singh said the organisation will "strongly" oppose the food agreement under the I2U2 grouping and argued that the decision will reduce farmers to landless peasants.

“There is no shortage of food in India. In fact, there is bumper crop production in the agriculture sector which employs at least 62% of Indian population. So, there is no requirement for such an agreement with foreign countries. The only reason they are doing this is to bring in big corporates into the Indian agriculture sector which will reduce farmers into peasants,” said Mr. Singh who was in the forefront of the year-long farmers’ protest during 2020-21.

His remarks came a day after the UAE committed $2 billion for building integrated food parks in India where American and Israeli technology would be utilised. It is understood that the food parks located in India would be connected to the high-tech food storage facilities that are expected to come up in UAE, as the Gulf country appears set to emerge as a global food power.

Closer food cooperation between India and the UAE under I2U2 (India-Israel-USA-UAE) comes two and half months after the two sides operationalised a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) opening possibilities of close bilateral and multilateral economic cooperation. Mr. Singh however maintained that by committing to supply land for the food parks and food corridors, India will create greater long-term economic and social disruption for its farming community. "Farming communities in France and Netherlands are protesting against corporatisation and now we are witnessing similar attempts in India," said Mr. Singh.

A joint statement issued after the I2U2 summit of Thursday had declared that the investment from the UAE would be utilised to build a "series of integrated food parks across India that will incorporate state-of-the-art climate-smart technologies to reduce food waste and spoilage, conserve fresh water."

"India will provide appropriate land for the project and will facilitate farmers' integration into the food parks," the joint statement declared. Officials here had stated earlier that farmers would be taken on board at the time of implementation of the projects.

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