Representatives of major farmers’ organisations who participated in a consultation with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail said on Saturday that they were “opposed” to the entry of foreign players in the domestic sector.
They charged the government with “misquoting” them in the media.
In a joint statement issued here, Navdanya, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, Organic Farming Association of India and Jagriti Agrotech asserted that their views were “contrary” to what the government had attributed to them and this was clear from the position papers they put forward at the meeting on Friday. “Several of the groups that were represented in the discussions are actually opposed to FDI in retail and this is not just a matter of safeguards for farmers [as the government has projected].
“Such strategies emerging from the government to make FDI in retail acceptable will not work as the policy was unacceptable to many organisations, political parties and intellectuals.” The farmers’ groups urged the government to drop the proposal completely.
“OFAI, ASHA and Navdanya had categorically opposed the move to introduce 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail sector in India and submitted a position paper to the government,” said Nishank of ASHA.
According to PTI, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion P.K. Chaudhery had said in a statement after the meeting on Friday that farmer associations were “by and large supportive… they welcomed FDI into retail sector.”
The representative of Navdanya headed by Vandana Shiva said that despite their opposition, which was clearly stated at the meeting, “the government has issued a misleading statement that farmers were in favour of FDI in retail.”
Ashish Gupta of OFAI said: “The representatives of OFAI, Navdanya, ASHA and Jagriti Agrotech actually categorically stated at the meeting that they were not in favour of 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail. The opposite of this is being communicated to the public.”
The joint statement said they had conveyed to the government that 2.5 lakh farmers had committed suicide since 1997 and the advent of FDI in retail would only propagate industrialisation of agriculture resulting in a worse crisis.
The farmers’ groups also pointed out that the monopolistic buying power of the large retailers would further weaken the marginal farmers’ position, resulting in lower share of value to them, dictating of the production techniques and output by the larger retailers and destruction of diversity in Indian agriculture. “It was brought out during the discussions that this would result in loss of employment, increased risk to farmers, increased risk of price manipulation and total lack of a level playing field,” they said.
The government put on hold the Cabinet decision of November 24 to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, under intense pressure from the Opposition parties and its own ally, the Trinamool Congress.
Published: January 15, 2012 03:34 IST | Updated: January 15, 2012 03:34 IST
“Farmers’ Representatives oppose FDI in multi-brand retail sector”
THE JOINT STATEMENT PUT OUT BY ASHA, OFAI & NAVDANYA IS PASTED BELOW:
This is a joint statement to clarify the position stated by some of the farmer organisations in the consultation with the DIPP secretary on the 13th of Friday 2012.
Ø Several of the groups that were represented in yesterday’s discussions are actually OPPOSED to FDI in Retail and this is not just a matter of safeguards for farmers. To name a few, they include: ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture), OFAI, Navdanya, Jagriti Agro Tech.
Ø While it is unclear whether the PTI story emerged from any press release put out by DIPP/Ministry of Commerce or from the wire service network itself, it is apparent that the views and stand of these organisations has been misrepresented.
Ø The fact that we hold a particular view, which is contrary to what the said news articles are implying, is apparent from the fact-based rational arguments put forward by several groups through position papers, media articles and media bytes in the past one month and more.
Ø It was clearly presented to the DIPP secretary that the Indian agricultural sector has been in deep crisis since the liberalisation and the industrialisation of the agricultural sector began in the 1990s. Since 1997, 250000 farmers have committed suicide and the advent of FDI in retail would only propagate industrialisation of agriculture resulting in a worsening of this crisis.
Ø It was also mentioned that the monopolistic buying powers of the large retailers would further weaken the marginal farmers position thereby resulting in a lower share of the value to them, dictating of the production techniques and output by the larger retailers and destruction of bio-diversity in Indian agriculture.
Ø This in addition to points relating to loss of employment, increased risk exposure to the farmers, increase in risk of purchase price manipulation, and total lack of level playing field for the farming sector were brought out during the discussions.
Ø Three papers to this end were submitted by the OFAI, ASHA and Navdanya to the officials of DIPP. All of these papers actually rejected the idea of FDI in retail and the same was discussed in the meeting as well. (Copies of the papers attached for the press)
Ø The PTI news story now appearing in several media channels is misleading and representing our views in a wrong fashion. Hence, we demand a rejoinder to be put out by PTI and published by those media houses which have put out the PTI story.
Ø We also would like to inform DIPP, if the faulty representation emerged from there, that such strategies from the Ministry to make FDI in Retail more acceptable, will not work because the reality is that this policy is unacceptable to many organisations, affiliations, political parties and intellectuals in India, based on sound reasoning. The Ministry and therefore, the Government of India has to acknowledge this expressly and drop the proposals fully.
The undersigned farmer organisations who work to promote food sovereignty rejected the need for FDI in retail and strongly opposed the premise that FDI in retail would benefit the farmers.
1. Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), a network of more than 400 organisations across 20 states of India.
2. Navdanya, Network of 5,00,000 Farmers
3. OFAI – Organic Farming Association of India