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Farmers up against WTO

Staff Reporter

Do not agree to free trade on agriculture produces, they say

Photo: M. Balaji

protest: Members of Tamil Nadu Farmers and Farm Workers party staging demonstration in front of the Railway Station in Tirupur on Monday to press their charter of demands. –

Tirupur: Uzhavar Uzhaipalar Katchi (Farmers, Peasants and Farm Workers party) has asked the Union Government not to sign any pact at the forthcoming seventh session of WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva from November 30- December 2 which could jeopardise the growth prospects of farming community here.

“We should not agree to treaties that allow free trade of agricultural products since such agreements can open the sluice gates permitting commodities from developed nations to flow liberally into our country,” UUK state president K. Chellamuthu said while addressing farmers at a demonstration organised by the party here on Monday.

Substantiating the opinion, he said that since the farmers in developed nations enjoy subsidies up to 98 per cent for their farming operations, they would be able to dump their produces at extremely low prices in developing nations like India making the domestic products uncompetitive.

He cited the example of how palm oil imports from Indonesia and Malaysia depressed the prices of coconut here.

“When palm oil from those countries became available at Rs. 10 a kg who would have opted for our coconut oil sold at Rs. 60 a kg,” he said.

This scenario, according to him, proved to be a catastrophe for the crop cultivators as about 37 per cent of the total farmers in the country have been involved in the cultivation of oil seeds like coconut, groundnut, gingelli and sunflower. The party also wanted the Union Government not to allow commercial cultivation of genetically modified ‘Bt brinjal.’

“The clearance given by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, country’s biotechnology regulator, for commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal should be nullified since the produce is poisonous to human beings when consumed,” Mr. Chellamuthu said. UUK district president K.C. M. Balasubramanian spoke.

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