Farmer bodies to hold stir against RCEP trade pact on Nov 4
Farmers organisations, under the umbrella of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), will organise a nationwide protest on November 4 to warn the government against going ahead with inclusion of agriculture in Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) involving 16 countries.
The AIKSCC, the largest platform of over 250 farmers organisations, has asked the Narendra Modi government to desist from going ahead with signing of the multilateral free trade agreement.
V.M. Singh, the convenor of AIKSCC and other working group members, said they have decided to organise a nationwide protest on November 4, the day RCEP negotiations are expected to conclude. Led by the AIKSCC, farmers will burn an effigy of the RCEP at district and lower administrative offices to lodge their protest.
Singh said that due to the anti-farmer, pro-corporate policies of the Central government, Indian farmers are ill-prepared to compete in world markets. They said that In India, input prices are heavily taxed and farmers are not given profitable prices, resulting in heavy losses and farmer debts.
RCEP will aggravate this crisis immensely, they added.
Elaborating the apprehensions of the farmers, the leaders of AIKSCC said that RCEP is likely to hurt Indian agriculture and dairy sector in a way no other trade agreement has so far.
Till now, the farmer representatives said the general norm has been to keep agriculture out of Free Trade Agreements, a convention followed even in the ongoing EU-US free trade negotiations. Forced reduction in tariffs to zero or near-zero would cripple the Indian dairy sector, thus affecting the livelihood of nearly 10 crore families.
A similar threat to Indian farmers being priced-out looms large for farmers who cultivate wheat and cotton (challenge from Australia and China), oilseed producers (challenge of palm oil import) and plantation producers (pepper, coconut, areca nut, cardamom, rubber etc).
AIKSCC leaders said that it is a mockery of democracy that a far-reaching trade agreement affecting the livelihood of crores of Indian farmers is being concluded in complete secrecy, that no draft of the negotiation text has been made public, that the state governments have not been consulted and that there has been no discussion in the Parliament on this issue so far. IANS
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