Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bali Ministerial: Indian Farmers urge Minister Sharma to continue support to farmers and right to food

PRESS RELEASE
4 December 2013
                                                                  
Bali Ministerial:
Indian Farmers urge Minister Sharma to continue support to farmers and right to food

The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (ICCFM) reiterates its support to Minister Anand Sharma and the Indian government for taking a strong stance in support of the hungry and small farmers of not just India, but the entire developing world at the WTOs 9th ministerial meeting. There is tremendous pressure on the Indian government to accept the Bali package, which could result it being forced to roll back the farmers Price Support System and the National Food Security Act, which provides subsidized food to more than 800 million people in India.

Members of ICCFM from Bhartiya Kisan Union, KRRS and SICCFM are present in Bali and are closely monitoring the ongoing talks and the stand of the Indian delegation in Bali. They have been part of several actions both inside and outside of the WTO venue, and demonstrations on the streets of Bali in order to demand the rights of farmers and the hungry and to keep the WTO and its free trade agenda out of Agriculture. “The millions of small farmers in India depend on farming as the main source of their livelihood. Agriculture is not a business in India, it is a culture and a way of life for the poor. We will not allow the WTO or any other free trade deal to endanger the livelihood of millions of our farmers,” said Yudhvir Singh of BKU.

The ICCFM urges the Indian government to deliberate deeply on its position on agriculture and global trade along with Indian farmers after the Bali talks end and permanently safeguard the interests of Indian farmers and hungry by ensuring strong national food security laws that support local production.

The WTO is forcing developing countries to cut already meagre subsidies to their hungry and poor, while allowing rich to continue huge trade distorting subsidies to their own agribusiness. At the same time it is forcing developing countries to open their markets to rich country products, while they face several barriers to exporting their own products. The Peace Clause in the current Bali package is an empty promise to developing countries which will leave them open to challenge in the four year interim period. “The peace clause is just a way to get us to accept the deal, eventually we will totally lose our ability to produce food and thousands of farmers will commit suicide if agriculture imports from rich countries flood our markets,” said Nandini Jairam of KRRS.

“We have communicated our concerns to Minister Sharma here in Bali. We will wait to see the stand that the Indian government takes at the end of the talks. If they don't reject the Peace Clause and protect Indian farmers and hungry, then we will come out on the streets all across the country and the consequences will be serious,” said Rakesh Tikait of BKU.

The ICCFM announced its intention to mobilize in a strength of more than 1 lakh in March 2014, the exact form and intensity of the mobilization will depend on the stance taken by the official Indian delegation here in Bali, and its behavior back in India.

For more information, please contact:
Yudhvir Singh, Coordinator and National Secretary, ICCFM (Yudhvir55@yahoo.com)
Rakesh Tikait, Spoksperson, BKU
Ms. K.S. Nandini Jayaram, President, KRRS Women’s Unit (nandiniksgowda@gmail.com)

Ashlesha Khadse: ashlesha.khadse@gmail.com, In Bali:  +62 87862889108

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Global Day of Action: #endWTO! Justice for Farmers!

In the midst of the 9th WTO Ministerial, La Via Campesina South Asia took part in the Global Day of Action at home in Mangalore and abroad in Bali. All over the world on December 3rd, farmers, trade unions, fisherfolk, women, and indigenous people joined together to demand a decisive blow to neoliberalism: an end to the WTO, once and for all.

In Bali, the mobilization was organized by Gerak Lawan, SMAA, and #endWTO. Each group of protesters had a colorful presentation: Koreans held a funeral for the WTO while a local Indonesian drum band played on in the background. More than 30 nationalities were present.

More photos here.

“The Bali package is a terrible deal for the developing world. We are forced to accept a legally binding agreement on trade facilitation and cut our small subsidies for farmers and the hungry. The peace clause is a trojan horse to get us to accept the WTO deal.” said Henry Saragih of Indonesia. 

“We don't want to get into discussions on weather the peace clause should be for 4 years or 10 years, the point is that the WTO is doing nothing for the farmers, in the long run it spells death for us. Indian farmers will never accept such a deal,” said Yudhvir Singh of BKU.

(More coverage: Jakarta Post, Economic Times)

Meanwhile, in Karnataka, India, farmers mobilized on the ground at a place of great meaning to agriculturalists trying to make a living in South India: the Mangalore port, an import hub of the nation. Farmers from four Indian states - Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharastra - came together to demand India leaves the WTO. They blockaded the port and burned an effigy of the WTO.


According to The Hindu:
The protesters viewed the limiting of subsidy on agriculture produce by the WTO, and the facilitation of cheap, duty-free import of agricultural produce by the Free Trade Agreements as “an extension of colonialism” and hurting the interest of farmers.

Coffee-grower M. Manjunath from Mudigere in Chikmagalur taluk, believed that the prices of coffee would increase by around Rs. 1,500 per quintal if cheap imports from Brazil were stopped. “Up to four per cent of the 3 lakh tonnes produced in India can be imported. Because of this, there are no buyers of our produce,” he said.
Similarly, K.G. Umesh, a sugarcane farmer from Maddur taluk in Mandya district, said the duty-free imports of sugar from Brazil and Malaysia were eating into the profitability of farmers here.
K.T. Gandadhar, general secretary of KRRS, said the import of sugar, maize, pigeon peas (tur dal), palm oil, rubber, areca nut were hurting domestic farmers.
He asked Parliament and Union government to ensure that developing countries walk out of the WTO talks. The protesters burned an effigy of the trade organisation.
“On the one hand, the cost of agriculture is soaring. On the other, farmers are being pushed into distress because of the dumping policies of the WTO. India should ensure that all imports are taxed, and should follow a path that aids farmers,” said Chamarasa Mali Patil, president, KRRS.

More photos, coverage here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: ACTION BY INDIAN MOVEMENTS INSIDE WTO MEETING



December 3



India: Defending the Poor and Hungry is Non-Negotiable!

2 December 2013

On the occasion of the Ninth Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Bali, Indonesia, several farmers’ organisations, trade unions, mass organisations and peoples’ campaigns resolved to support the Indian Government’s position to not trade away national food security.

The group welcomes the decision of the Indian Cabinet on 28th November to reject any peace clause that does not guarantee a permanent solution. The peace clause has been widely opposed by the Chairs of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce and Agriculture, several political parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties, and mass organisations.

However, the group cautioned the Indian negotiating team headed by Commerce Minister Mr. Anand Sharma, not to bow to any pressure to weaken India’s position on defending and upholding national food security as a sovereign right. The group declared that the safeguarding and promotion of the country’s food security, rural employment and livelihoods are non-negotiable, and that food security cannot be ensured without supporting agricultural production by small and marginal farmers

The group reminds the WTO members that no country needs to be on the defensive about protecting the right to food and fighting hunger in their countries. And that aggressively upholding the rights of its citizens is not tantamount to collapsing the ministerial talks. On the contrary, such pressure tactics must be exposed as a conspiracy to keep people hungry and poor.

It was decided that the group would closely monitor the negotiations during the ministerial meeting to ensure that the interests of the poor and hungry are not compromised in any way.

Bhartiya Kisan Union
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj
Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh
Focus on the Global South India
Great Mission Group Consultancy
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS)
Public Services International
Right to Food Campaign
Shram Seva Nyas
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements
Swadeshi JagranManch
Third World Network India



December 4


Sunday, December 1, 2013

2 of our own in Indonesian Youth Caravan to #endWTO





The Indonesian Youth Food Movement Youth Caravan departed Jakarta on 25th November from Jakarta with forty-five energetic participants, ready to campaign across Java for the end of the WTO and the Free Trade Regime. Among them were two international guests from South Asia, Pathak representing BKF and Savitha representing KRRS.
"I decided to participate in the caravan because I wanted to understand the peasant movements of Indonesia - their strategy for building strength and and what is the lifestyle of the peasants. I wanted to know how they are fighting for their rights." Patak 
"For me, I wanted to join in the Caravan so I could compare Indian movements with Indonesia, especially the youth movement. I was excited to learn how they actively oppose the agrarian crisis, and how the student unions work together with the farmer movements. I'm a unversity student, so I can bring the ideas from Indonesia back to our own Youth Movement - The Green Brigade." Savitha

The first stop was Cirebon, where the Youth Caravaners met with local fisherfolk who are part of SNI- Serikat Nelayan Indonesia. They shared about the acute crisis they are facing because MNC fishing companies are able to overfish and still survive. Local fishers have to cope with the overfishing conditions by going far out into the ocean, and for those who can't manage, they migrate to Thailand as fisherman or Saudi Arabia as domestic workers.

At the second stop, Semarang, an Youth Caravaners had an action in front of the government action. "It was a fruitful action - after the action, the government called the Youth Food Movement representatives to talk, and committed to supporting food sovereignty at a local level. They also plan to work against climate change (though within the limitations of the already-existing WTO agreements)," said Pathak.

Next was Solo, a provincial city, where a cultural event and street theatre was held in the middle of the road. "Women's students participated and put forward drama and skits about food sovereignty. I took away a lot of inspiration for my university, we haven't found anything like it in Karnataka," said Savitha.

At Surabaya, both Savitha and Patak were able to share during the International Seminar on WTO at Veteran University. Savitha talked about the multiple crises of land grabbing, oil seed farmers, farmer suicides, women farmers, and the dairy sector, while Pathak spoke about the campaign to #endWTO and the alternatives such as food sovereignty, to an audience of over 200 people.


Last stop was Banyuwangi, a coastal town, where the Youth Caravan got to sleep on the beach in coconut leave houses. They met with the Baffel community who is fighting against the gold extraction since 1995. "The community faced violence from hired paramilitaries - some people were killed and the community still lives in fear. Not only did they lose their land to the gold mining industries, but also their peace of mind. Indigenous people especially suffered," told Savitha.

"As a former organizer of the Bangladesh Climate Caravan, it was interesting to see a youth-oriented caravan. Our caravan is more farmer-oriented, but now we are interested involving student groups as well," Pathak commented. "As a member of a student group and a researcher, I am inspired by the students unions in Indonesia. I hope to organize student groups in Karnataka as well that join with the farmers' movement and to end the agrarian crisis and free trade regime," Savitha concluded.

La Via Campesina thanks the Youth Food Movement for welcoming our representatives and for giving them a platform to share about the Indian and Bangladeshi context!


Indian farmers' movements in the news for organizing against WTO

NEW DELHI, December 1, 2013
Updated: December 1, 2013 02:03 IST

Farmers’ panel urges PM not to accept Peace Clause

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement on Friday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to accept at the ninth World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting the ‘Peace Clause’, which is a time-bound immunity against penalty for breaching the 10 per cent ceiling on farm subsidy provided to developing countries like India. The panel comprises farmers’ groups in various States and State units of the Bhartiya Kisan Union.
“It is sad that the United Progressive Alliance government, in a hasty move, agreed for this temporary reprieve instead of holding to its original position for a permanent solution through changes in the Agreement on Agriculture [AoA], i.e. allowing such subsidies under the green box, which contains no conditionality on subsidy limits. This would have removed the imbalance in the AoA, whereby the developed countries have the flexibility to provide high subsidy directly to their population in the form of food stamps, but developing countries are unable to meet similar objectives,” the committee said in a letter written to Dr. Singh.
“By accepting the ‘Peace Clause’, India may help with the deal on Trade Facilitation and the successful end of the WTO Ministerial in Indonesia, but the Congress-led UPA will be condemned for compromising price support system (or minimum support price) which provides livelihood support to millions of subsistence farmers and ensures adequate food production for public stockholding essential to run the food security programme in India, home for one third of world’s hungry population,” the letter said.
“As an eminent economist, it must be clear to you that India can ensure food security only by supporting both production and consumption. Weakening the production, as the ‘Peace Clause’ is bound to do, will not help food access. The Indian government has to defend its right to freely procure food from 600 million farmers and get it across to its 870 million hungry people in the country,” the letter said.
It said that the European Union and the United States interest in the WTO were to get market access in developing countries, while at the same time protect their farmers and agri-business through doling out huge subsidies. “In the last 18 years of the WTO regime, the U.S. and E.U. have not fulfilled any of their commitment on reduction of their subsidies, rather, are openly continuing their domestic subsidies as well as export subsidies.”
The letter is in a series of protests expressed by political parties, former bureaucrats and civil society groups in the country in the run-up to the Bali ministerial beginning on Tuesday.
----
SHIMOGA, November 30, 2013

KRRS slams WTO’s cap on food subsidies

STAFF CORRESPONDENT

Accuses the world body of pressuring India to revoke Food Security Bill

Wealthy nations through World Trade Organisation (WTO) are trying to pressure India to either withdraw or dilute its Food Security Bill, working president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha K.T. Gangadhar has said.
The WTO has fixed the caps on the food subsidies and minimum support price (MSP) of its member nations on the directions of United States of America (USA) and the European Union. It is the right time for India to reconsider its ties with WTO, he said at a State-level seminar on social justice held at Dr. Ambedkar Bhavan in the city on Friday.
He said that, the below poverty line (BPL) families as well as the small and marginal farmers will be benefited from Food Security Bill. The Bill was a major step towards the alleviation of poverty and hunger. If the Bill was implemented, the amount India spends on food subsidy would breach the cap fixed by WTO. The issue will come for discussion during the ninth Ministerial conference of WTO that will be held in Indonesia next month, he said.
The cap on food subsidy fixed by WTO was inhuman and it should be opposed. The policies of WTO were against the interests of the poor and the marginalised. By pressurising for withdrawal of the Food Security Bill passed by the Indian Parliament, the WTO has shown disregard for democracy.
He stressed on the need to mobilise a strong public opinion against the policies of WTO.
He said the socio-economic disparities in India were widening owing to the liberal economic policies. The Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and the Backward Class were not benefited in any manner from economic liberalisation, he said.
He said the Dalit and peasant movement in Karnataka should rework their strategies to face the challenges posed by the forces unleashed by economic liberalisation and globalisation. Rather that resorting to extreme measures, the Dalit and peasant organisations should adopt Constitutional and legal means to get their demands fulfilled, he said.
The political parties try to come to power by issuing false promises to the voters. The social activists should carefully study the election manifesto of the political parties and create awareness among the voters on them, he said.
The programme was organised by Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS). Convener of DSS H. Rachappa, social activists Mallesh Harihar, Shivananda Kugwe, Somashekhar Shimoggi and Rajappa Mastar were present.