Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Infam seeks incentives to compete
KOCHI, Apr 14
INDIAN Farmers Movement (Infam) has requested the Union Government to make available incentives to primary producers by way of inputs and credit at international cost and infrastructure facilities both pre-harvest and post-harvest at international level so as to establish a level playing field for competing in the world market.
This will ensure a decent return to their efforts and capital and will act as an encouraging factor to the primary producers at the grassroots level, Dr M.C. George, National Trustee, Infam, told Business Line. The terms of trade, he said, is now definitely more in favour of traders than the producers and consumers. "This has to be reversed so as to do justice to millions of small and marginal producers in the country," he said.
In a memorandum to the Union Commerce Minster on Saturday, he said the Infam had requested the Minister to help the primary producers who were being exploited by others.
He said that the price of natural rubber is showing some improvements in tune with the international price movement. Even the improved price is not at the level that prevailed about eight years back.
The Infam, he said, had suggested that price of natural rubber in the domestic market should be based on the international price along with the transportation costs and other incidental charges added with the bound rate of 25 per cent as per the WTO agreement. Besides, natural rubber should be considered as a "deemed export" item by which the producers could get all the benefits for export.
Infam has also urged the Commerce Minister to rework the Price Stabilisation Fund scheme after consultations with farmers' organisations so as to make it more farmer-friendly.
In the case of spices production too, the primary producers are the worst affected lot by several multilateral treaties, bilateral agreements, regional groupings etc. The import of spices for value-addition and re-export is one such condition detrimental to the interests of farmers. The only value-addition they do to the imported low quality spices is to mix the same with superior quality Kerala spices and export the mixture as Indian spices, he said. The zero duty import facility for Sri Lankan spices, mainly pepper, is an example, Dr George pointed out.
"Ambiguity of rules, loopholes in provisions of law etc are used to the advantages of vested interests at the expense of domestic producers," he argued.
The Infam, he said, had also urged the Mr Arun Jaitely to scrutinise the role of various commercial boards established under definite statutes. For instance "the Spices Board is now waging a war against the vanilla cultivators and taking them to different courts through litigations".
It requested the Union Minister to ask the Board to withdraw all litigations against farmers and to compensate for their losses and damages, Dr George said.
Another area of worry to the farming community is the attempt to bring in thousands of tissue culture planting materials from Hyderabad. Biotechnology is at a nascent stage in the country and this requires a lot of testing, trials, researches etc before putting it to widespread use. Tissue culture plants have to be subjected for sustainability, growth prospects, productivity, susceptibility to diseases, vulnerability to insects and pests etc before propagating them for general use.
At least five to six years of studies both at laboratory and field have to be done before recommending its use widely. "We fear the Spices Board has not done any such studies before advising the farmers," Dr George said. It will affect the credibility and scope of biotechnology, which is considered to be a science of the future, he added.
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