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Nur Aisha Abd. Wahab


The Tribune



Farmers threaten stir against RCEP
The Tribune (01/11/2019) – New Delhi, October 31

Farmer organisations from across India have called for protests against the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), with some even threatening to block essential supplies.

After the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (RKMS), the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has also announced nationwide protest on November 4 “to warn the government against going ahead with inclusion of agriculture in RCEP free trade agreement”.

“The RCEP is likely to hurt Indian agriculture and dairy sector in a way no other trade agreement has so far,” AIKSCC, a grouping of 250 farmer organisations, today said, asking the Narendra Modi government to not go ahead with signing of multilateral free trade agreement involving 16 countries.

Demanding that the government makes public the provisional text of the agreement, AIKSCC convener VK Singh said farmers would organise a nationwide protest on November 4, the day RCEP negotiations are expected to conclude.

A delegation of AIKSCC leaders will also visit Kashmir “soon” to meet and talk to apple farmers to understand the ground reality and “offer constructive suggestions to the government for remedying the situation”.

“Apple farmers of Kashmir face a bleak future. After two years of crop damage due to natural calamities, 2019 witnessed a bumper apple crop in the Kashmir valley. The government’s ill-planned NAFED procurement plan has fallen flat,” it said, demanding farm-gate purchase of apples by the government and full payment of crop value to the farmers.

“The government must also compensate farmers and traders for the losses they have suffered,” stated the organisation which is also holding a national convention on November 29-30 to “discuss, deliberate and decide on action plans to realise the long pending demands of farmers and resolutely resist the current onslaught against farmers and food security through dubious free trade agreements like RCEP”.

“Due to anti-farmer, pro-corporate policies of the Government of India, Indian farmers are ill prepared to compete in world markets. World over, governments have been heavily subsidizing crop inputs and providing quality infrastructure to their farmers to maintain competitive prices of their produce. The Indian government has not done 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,” the AIKSCC said.

Farmer leaders took exception to the statement of Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal about keeping quiet till the framework was out, asking why the government “wanted to shut all voices of dissent till the agreement is a fait accompli”. Instead of signing the agreement, the government should make the provisional text of the agreement public and hold consultations with farmers, they said. 

Read more at https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jammu-kashmir/farmers-threaten-stir-against-rcep/854607.html