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Wrong to Label Support to Farmers as Subsidy: MS Swaminathan to WTO

Indian Farmers

CHENNAI: It is wrong to label support given to farmers in emerging economies like India as subsidy and World Trade Organisation should come up with measures in aid of ending hunger and malnutrition, renowned agricultural scientist Prof MS Swaminathan said today.

Developed countries had already safeguarded extensive financial support to their farmers through the green box provision of the WTO, he said here in a statement ahead of the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the UN body to be held in Nairobi this December.

“It is wrong to designate the limited support given to farmers (in nations like India) as subsidy… It will be more appropriate to refer to the assistance as support to sustainable farming,” he said.

Agriculture was essentially a commercial occupation in developed countries where hardly five per cent of the population depend on it for livelihood, he pointed out.

However, in emerging economies like India farming was the main occupation of a majority of rural families which depend on crop, animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and agro-processing to eke out a livelihood and for their household food security.

“Also, the farm size is small and the marketable surplus is low. As a result, farm families require social protection, and hence, it is wrong to call support as subsidy,” he argued.

“The difference between agriculture as a commercial occupation and agriculture as a means of abolishing hunger and malnutrition will have to be clearly understood at the upcoming WTO meet in December,” he said.

“It is high time that there is also a Food Security Box by the WTO which can help countries like India to adopt farm support policies which can help them achieve zero hunger challenge,” he urged.

He lauded Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for “conveying to world bodies that support for food security and abolition of malnutrition are non-negotiable.”


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