Grassroots Reachout & Networking in India on Trade & Economics (GRANITE)
Karnataka Fourth Outreach Meeting
Shimoga District, Karnataka, July 31, 2006
Consumer Rights, Education & Awareness Trust (CREAT), Vijaywada, in association with Consumer Forum, Sagar and Karnataka State Farmers Association, organised the fourth Outreach Meeting at Sagar, Shimoga District on July 31, 2006. Around 120 participants attended the meeting.
The objective of the Outreach Meeting was to ascertain the perception of the public about globalisation and World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues and its effect on their livelihood.
Inauguration and Key Address
Dr Shakeel Ahmed, Deputy Director (Horticulture Department) Government of Karnataka inaugurated the Outreach Meeting. In his keynote address, Dr Ahmed said that after the WTO came into existence the whole economic situation of the country has undergone a sea change and people have to gear up to the situation. However, even after a decade of WTO, Indians are still debating the need for WTO. Instead they should start preparing themselves to face the consequences of globalisation.
Basavannappa Gowda, President of Karnataka Farmers Association, Sagar Taluk
He said that WTO and globalisation has led to a series of legislations, which have gone against the interests of the farmers. He mentioned that the Seed Bill had many flaws, which harm the farming community, as seeds have been considered sacred in Inida and was never sold for money. He said that if the Bill comes into effect, then farmers cannot store seeds and they should buy from the market. Basavannappa Gowda explained that the farmers might soon import ‘terminator seeds’ by which farmers can neither store seeds nor grow anything without buying from the market.
K T Gangadhar, Farmer Leader
He spoke about the harmful effect of Genetically Modified (GM) crops and said that not only the farmers are at a loss but also consumers who consume it. He said there is nothing, which can match organic foods and farmers and consumers should encourage it. They should oppose entry of GM food in India.
A R Lambodara
He presided over the first session of the discussions and said that US and EU are forcing other countries like India to reduce the subsidy on agricultural products, but at the same time increasing subsidy given to their farmers.
After these presentations, the floor was thrown open for discussion. The highlight of the discussions is summarised below:
Ullur Chandru, B.Sc, Agriculture
If the farmers want to counter globalisation, then they have to view agriculture as a profession, and not as a family tradition. The challenges of globalisation can be successfully met if farmers try to increase their productivity. Similarly, our Agricultural Universities, Government Departments and Research Institutions should empower farmers to face the threat of globalisation.
Unfortunately, the Government and other institutions are not working in this direction. They are not helping farmers in providing knowledge or finance to face the challenges of globalisation. As a silk grower, I have not received any kind of help from the Government. I have had to do my own research and development (R&D), including other arrangements. Government has to improve the infrastructure and other facilities for framers.
Suma Manjunath, B.Sc, Agriculture
Suma Manjunath supported globalisation and said that globalisation has brought about several advantages to the farmers. It is only the farmer who is thinking negatively, who also need to look into the positive aspects of globalisation. She said that after the emergence of WTO, India’s exports has increased indicating economic growth. She said that the local cooperative institutions should be strengthened.
Belur Vinayaka Rao, M.Sc, Agriculture
He asserted confidently that WTO has helped Indian farmers. He said there are several provisions in the WTO, which need to be used for the benefit of Indian farmers. It is only the Government and the negotiators who have failed to capitalise the benefits from the WTO. He further said that if India uses the various boxes available in the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) of WTO, then it would be a boon for Indian farmers. At the same time, farmers have to look at the positive points of WTO and not merely criticising everything and anything in the WTO.
K Seetharam, Farmer
He said that the tropical climate of South India is conducive to agricultural growth. In this situation, the inputs needed are 25 percent. Nature gives the balance 75 percent. That is the reason why seed companies are trying to capture the market. It is for the farming community to use Seed Bill and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) to their advantage rather than blaming globalisation. However, the government should extent full support to the farmers.
Beleyur Devendra, Farmer
He said that facing the challenges of globalisation is not an easy task. In particular, for the poor farmers who have not financial backing or knowledge it would be a difficult proposition. He said one way to counter the effects of globalisation is to change our farming methods. We need to conduct experiments and go in for improved methods of farming. Research and development should get importance. He felt that the cooperative institutions have miserably failed in protecting the interests of the farmers, which needs to be strengthened in the light of globalisation.
KT Gangadhar, Farmer
He said that India made a mistake by accepting the conditions of the WTO without preparing the Indian farmers to face its challenges. Indian farmers were never given any education or training to face the challenges of globalisation. On the other hands, developed nations have given enough guidance to farmers, including financial benefits in the form of subsidy whereas the Indian farmers are denied both. How can the Indian farmers face globalisation?
Without considering the poor condition of farmers, the Government is making efforts to amend the Andhra Pradesh (Agricultural Produce and Livestock) Marketing Act (APMC Act). This will be beneficial more to the trader than the farmer. Instead, the Act should be amended keeping farmers interests in view. Most of the problems of farmers will melt away if the farmer is able to sell his products directly to the consumers. It is middlemen who are causing all the problems for the farming community.
Vasanthkumar, Agricultural Journalist
The problem of farmers’ suicide needs to be given attention. The market price and the production cost are not equal. That is the reason why farmers are in perpetual debt. If this imbalance is set right, then we may be able to protect the interests of farmers.
Ananthram, Freedom fighter and Traditional Doctor
He said that there is a need to protect traditional plants. Indian should patent its rich biodiversity and institutions like Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) should help traditional farmers and doctors.
Shailendra Bandagadde, Farmer and Writer
Globalisation has influenced the cultural and literary values of India. The onslaught of the media with its western and consumerist culture needs to be regulated. There is a need to strengthen cultural values so that globalisation does not spoil our true nature.
Saroja Raghavendra, Advocate
Saroja said that globalisation has made women a mere commodity. It is said that globalisation leads to better opportunities. But it has led to more harassment and violence against women, which is on the rise. The media is portraying women as goods to be sold and purchased instead of as humans.
M V S Prasad, Farmer and Agricultural Journalist
Globalisation and liberalisation has its impact on journalism and media. Today, media is pure business and newspapers are commodities in the market place. As a result of globalisation, it has lost its values and has become a means of promoting fashion and sex instead of cultural values. It is time the threat of globalisation on media is recognised.