They also unanimously rejected the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement which India is currently negotiating with 16 countries- which include major economies like China, Australia, and ten ASEAN countries.
“RCEP will manipulate our seed laws; it will strengthen the power of seed companies and their patents while restricting farmers freedom to save and exchange as they have done for centuries,” said B Nagendra, State President KRRS, Karnataka.
India’s dairy sector is particularly vulnerable, with the majority being unorganized and providing livelihoods to over 150 million, especially women. Corporations like Danone, Fonterra land others receive massive subsidies in their countries and are looking to conquer India, which is the highest dairy consumer in the world. Indian cooperatives like Amul and Karnataka Milk Federation have joined India’s farmers in resisting the RCEP.
“RCEP will destroy Indian milk- we have excellent dairy cooperatives like Amul which provide jobs to millions, it will benefit foreign corporations,” said Sellamuthu.
“The Indian government has taken a cautionary step as elections are near, and we warn them that any attack on our food sovereignty and farmers rights will be met with huge resistance,” said Yudhvir Singh, coordinator of the All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements. Besides agriculture, India’s manufacturing sector is under serious threat from Chinese imports.