National Alliance of People’s Movements
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Press Release 07th November 2013
NAPM Condemns Complete annihilation of small farmers in World Agricultural Congress 5-7Nov.2013
Dubbed as “World Annihilation Forum”, long back, World Agricultural Forum (WAF) has lived up to that and again succeeded in annihilation of small and marginal farmers, their right to discuss issues of concern to them, and created a distance between them and the policy-makers elected by them, in World Agricultural Congress (WAC) 2013.
Unfortunately, WAC 2013, WAF and government leaders from India failed to observe a minute of silence in memory of farmers who committed suicide in the aftermath of cyclone Phailin and heavy rains, just days before WAC 2013 commenced. Amidst a chaotic agricultural farm situation, with crop losses, stagnant water in the field, huge farmer debts, in Andhra Pradesh, WAC 2013 has begun and ended, with no reference to such a situation. In the past three days, no word has been uttered on the farmers suicides, or calamities faced by farmers in AP and elsewhere in India.
Achievements of World Agricultural Forum, at WAC 2013:
1. Successfully created barriers in participation of small and marginal farmers in WAC 2013 through high registration fees, high security, inaccessible place, alien concepts, using English as the basic medium of communication, prior development of topics without any scope for integration of local content, expensive ‘corporate’ atmosphere and inhospitable attitude.
2. Extraction of Statement from Union Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar conducive to their objective and agenda, including genetically modified (GM) crop seeds and contract farming.
3. By the participation of a Union Minister, Chief Minister, Agriculture Ministers of AP and Karnataka, WAF could get legitimacy to their organization and visibility to their anti-farmer objectives.
Difference between WAC 2011 (Brussels) and WAC 2013 (Hyderabad) is obvious. While WAF could not achieve government participation and partnership in a corporate-friendly US and Europe, in India, populated by independent, sovereign small farmers, government was eager to be seen with WAF functionaries. Participants were happy with the full operations and logistics service over three days, which included coordinating 75 speakers from 6 continents. However, in Hyderabad, delegates had to face tough time in getting accommodation, getting translation, etc., and had run pillar to post to get even the minimum needs done. In a international event, translation services are very important. However, local participants were not given any choice. Of course, this is in tune with the core objective of WAF and their sponsors, ‘to deny farmers any choice’. The big saving grace, unfortunate though, has been the huge involvement of Department of Agriculture, Government of Andhra Pradesh, in terms of manning many ‘conference’ services, mobilization of farmers and other participants. Without the involvement of this Department, WAC 2013 would have been damp squib.
Our allegation that WAF is a lobbying organization of multi-national companies, especially Monsanto, was proved right when the Chairman of World Agriculture Forum Advisory Board and former Prime Minister of New Zealand James Bolger called for a political consensus on GM crops, and terming it as the only answer for reduction in food prices. Ignoring the distress among small and marginal farmers caused by profit-making agri-business companies, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar call for helping companies in getting better prices for their products is completely unexpected, and deplorable.
Speakers and presenters and sponsors of WAC 2013 have deliberately tried to push agri-business as the only answer to increase food production, and GM crops as the means to increase productivity. No session or speaker who could give a wider perspective has been invited or included. Policy-makers, agri-business companies and private profiteers have to realize the farming is not a purely economic activity. Their corporate and business solutions give rise to many economic, environmental, social and quality questions. None of these questions were allowed to be asked at this Congress. WAC 2013 would have been useful if there was wider participation and scope for the views of different stakeholders. Views of farmers, consumers and taxpayers are very important, and not just those of profit-makers and their lobbying organizations.
Estimated, there are about 300 delegates, including 33 from various countries, will discuss in 29 sessions different aspects of agriculture and allied sectors. There will be 13 keynote addresses, 11 round table discussions and five concurrent sessions. However, there is no transparency and information sharing system. Typical of a ‘closed’ corporate event, even the media did not information. Small and marginal farmers who were invited were not allowed and were stopped at the gates. Police officials were posted inside the conference hall, creating an atmosphere of regimentation and barrier-full atmosphere.
We condemn the attitude of WAF and government towards farmers and farming community. We deplore lack of facilities and facilitation for participation of small and marginal farmers. We reject the condescending attitude of the organizers towards enthusiastic farmers, who travelled long distances.
We demand the following:
1. A public apology from World Agricultural Forum for creating barriers in participation of small and marginal farmers.
2. A statement from Government of Andhra Pradesh, and Government of India, clarifying that the presentations and announcements would have no bearing on policies of the government with regard to agriculture and welfare of small and marginal farmers. It should also include a declaration of disassociation from engaging with WAF in future.
3. A compensation package for farmers of Andhra Pradesh, who were distressed by recent cyclones, rains and bad quality seeds, from agri-business corporations and from the financial proceedings of WAC 2013.
4. Publication of all the expenditure incurred by the governments (State and central), and WAF in organizing WAC 2013, and sources of all the monies.
Saraswati Kavula, BRK Raju, Dr. K. Babu Rao, Dr. D.Narasimha Reddy,
Suhas Kolhekar, Maj.Gen. Sudhir Vombatkere
National Alliance of People’s Movements
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