Need to protect farmers’ livelihood, ensure food security

Need to protect farmers’ livelihood, ensure food security

December 30, 2005 The Indian Express
Lucknow, December 29: Dr. Veena Jha, the country chief of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), India on Thursday said the need to protect livelihood of farmers and ensuring food security should be India’s main priority in agriculture negotiations and the modalities should be finalised urgently.

“Given the emerging pattern of GDP in developing countries, the share of services in GDP is rising and services sector has become crucial for employment generation. But India’s interests in agriculture is of paramount importance as many more poor people are engaged in agriculture than in services,” she pointed out while analysing the WTO ministerial meet in Hong Kong at a workshop organised by the Network of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (NEED).

She reasoned that technological advancement in the IT sector and trade liberalisation of services said have helped in the growth of the services sector and an increase in the outsourcing of services.

It was due to this reason that employment in services sector has increased from 20 to 26 percent in the 1990s, she said while adding that nearly two-third of the employment in some service sectors is of unskilled and semiskilled nature. But more than 60 per cent people in India are directly dependent on agriculture which means that the agriculture sector should always be the thrust point in any negotiation.

She also pointed out that economic migration patterns from and within Asia have been demand driven and dictated by richer countries. “Despite growing number of short-term labour migration cases in Asia, there are various constraints laid upon it by the policy framework of developed countries. This needs to be addressed during future negotiation,” she said.

Barbara Wilson, International Fair Trade promoter from United Kingdom said the developing countries need to make their farmers aware of the market practices and the advantages they can enjoy in agriculture.

“We cannot allow the developed economies to dictate terms on the developing economies and the role of the civil societies and women becomes more crucial when the developing economy is searching for a model to grow,” she said.