WTO Report Supports Narendra Modi’s Farm Laws

The Indian laws aim to protect and empower farmers, stated the report, in a manner so that they can engage with the various stakeholders
A farmer watches over the harvest
Outlook Web Bureau Jan 21, 2021

An independent report by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Secretariat, say media reports, has indirectly supported the three controversial farm laws introduced by the current government. Despite ongoing farmers’ protests against these acts, the WTO seems to indicate that the policies are in the right direction and may help the agriculture sector.

The Indian laws aim to protect and empower farmers, stated the report, in a manner so that they can engage with the various stakeholders, such as agriculture firms, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and exporters “for farm services, at mutually agreed prices, in a transparent manner”. They will thus benefit croppers.

At present, the fragmentation of the farm markets and weak infrastructure ensure that the farmers get only a fraction of the prices paid by the final consumers. The bulk of the money goes to middlemen and intermediaries. In addition, agriculture subsidies account for 8 per cent of India’s GDP, and half of the Centre’s total subsidies are related to food.

Government procurement of certain crops, to ensure food security and farmers’ livelihoods, at pre-fixed MSPs (minimum support prices) distort and disrupt cropping patterns and production. The report said that this is in favour of MSP crops like wheat, rice, cotton and sugar, and away from those such as pulses, coarse grains, and oilseeds.


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