Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
August 6, 2014
To: Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman,
Minister of State Finance
138, North Block, New Delhi
Dear Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman:
We are a network of farmers’ organizations in India, comprising of farmers movements from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Maharastra.
We appreciate the Government of India’s uncompromised stand in the WTO and commitment to food security. At the WTO General Council the Government of India has postponed the Trade Facilitation Agreement indefinitely until a solution on public stockholding has been found. We appreciate the roles the Government of India and you have played in this position, and we will extend support to the Government of India for any pro-farmer and pro-poor position you have in the WTO. However, our position since the Uruguay Round has always been that there is no place for agriculture in the WTO, and Indian farmers have been the champion of this fight, both at home and internationally.
We agree with you that a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security is paramount to trade facilitation. Thank you for taking a permanent stand for India against pressure from developed countries such as the USA and protecting the interests of Indian farmers. Protecting farmers means protecting food security at large for Indian citizens. Recognizing and acting upon this is a first step for seeking justice for small farmers in a body such as the WTO.
However, the WTO is a fundamentally flawed institution that bends the economic playing field in favor of developed countries and large MNCs at the cost of the livelihoods of the poor. Since the creation of the WTO, farmers’ organizations of India have held strong that agriculture has no place in the WTO. Especially for a country like India, which has a majority rural population, relinquishing sovereignty of our food system to the interests of foreign corporations and developed countries will have a fatal impact for our population. To truly take the “farmers’ stand” the Government of India must demand an end to agriculture in the WTO altogether.
The WTO has always been the centerpiece of the free trade regime with its multilateral reach and its special ability to legally enforce and penalize countries in order to implement global trade rules. It has been 18 years since the WTO was established. The multiple crises of finance, food, climate, can all be linked to the free trade regime and how it has overexploited the planet, pushing us into this climate crisis, poisoning our food and speculating on prices driving them up beyond people’s reach and letting banks and transnational corporations run unregulated pushing us all into the brink of a global recession.
What we need is not more free trade, but rather, a new system, one that is based on peoples’ sovereignty, economic, climate, social and cultural justice. What we need is a trade that is based on complementarity, solidarity and that has at its heart, the peoples’ interests and not that of corporations. We need an agricultural system that is based on food sovereignty and not based on growing cash crops for the markets.
There are hundreds of alternatives from communities, from social movements, from peasants, workers, women, migrants, fishers, youth and economic justice activists.
One again, thank you for standing strong for farmers at the WTO and holding back on the Trade Facilitation Agreement in the interest of public stockholding. We urge you to continue to work in the same direction until agriculture is out of the WTO altogether.
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, State President, BKU Punjab,
|Sh Vijay Jawandhia
Shetkari Sanghatna Maharashtra
|Chukki Nanjundaswamy, Karnataka Rajya Ryot Sangha, Karnataka