Thursday, September 16, 2010

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India secretly plans to sign India - Japan Economic Partnership Agreement


Beolow is the text of the letter sent by farmers movements to the Indian Prime Minister:-

Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements
La Via Campesina – Globalize Struggle! Globalize Hope!
A-87, Road n.2, Mahipalpur Extension, New Delhi – 37. Ph 9868146405

To,
Manmohan Singh Ji
Honourable Prime Minister of India
Room No. 148-B, South Block
New Delhi – 110 001
Tel: 23012312, Fax: 23016857

Sub: Indian Farmers Oppose the Undemocratic Indo-Japan backdoor EPA

Manmohan Singh ji,

We, the farmers movements of India - the women and men who grow India's food and protect its agricultural biodiversity are writing to you regarding the current back door negotiations of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or CEPA with Japan. We learn only from press reports that the negotiations are completed and it will  be signed by the Prime Minister next month in Tokyo.

1.There is complete lack of transparency. The Indian Government has not taken any steps to inform us about the several rounds of talks with Japan or the implications of such an economic partnership agreement (EPA). Such EPAs, like other FTAs go beyond what cannot be negotiated under the WTO and we are openly opposed to agriculture in the WTO and in the EPAs or FTAs. In the absence of any official disclosure, the only limited information on this has been from leaked drafts, or through NGOs and ironically from the Japanese government web sites.

Agriculture is a state subject in federal India, however our state governments have not even been  informed or consulted about proceedings of this EPA and its impact on state agriculture. Such a centralizing trend to fast track decision making on controversial issues like free trade, GMOs and agriculture research, issues that pertain to state governments is a disturbing trend.

It is thus unacceptable to us that the Government of India  "agree in principle" and conclude this EPA  without any transperancy and we reject  this EPA as an undemocratic underhand deal.
2.Farmers freedoms are  at stake. We demand to know what agriculture-related and IPR provisions are being negotiated in this Indo-Japan CEPA. From the 'leaked' drafts it is understood that both sides are expected to comply "in a manner based on international standards” on new plant varieties. We understand that in general international standards refer to UPOV standards. UPOV provides more protection to industrialised nation seed corporations as opposed to developing country farmers. India has already taken a relatively progressive step with its own Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act of 2001 and no new trade agreements should impinge on the rights of its farmers as plant breeders and seed consumers as ennumerated in this act.

3.Our farming needs our own seeds. Already Japanese companies like Sakata, Taikii and Tokita Seeds operate in India and Japan's obvious interests will be to protect its corporations profits. Various other agriculture related Japanese companies are eyeing our agriculture market.  We therefore demand that not only farmers traditional rights to save, resow and exchange seeds are not compromised under any circumstances, but that our own seeds be given the space and priority they warrant. India’s public agriculture universities should focus on enhancing farmers seed varieties and farming technologies with their participation. We strongly object against corporations being given an entry pass, be it through IPR or any investment concessions. India's seeds are our people’s patrimony, not for a foreign corporation to exploit and  profit from. 

We do not need to remind you that India is suffering from an agrarian crises. There is a corporate assault on our lands, seeds, water and local markets. Farmers are committing suicides everyday – already more than 200,000 farmers have committed suicide and this is only a very modest number as actual numbers are much higher. There is a wave of migrations of male farmers to exploding cities for underpaying, undignified jobs in the informal sector with no social security. Farmer women are bearing greater burdens to make ends meet and take care of their families in  times of rising food prices and low incomes. Worse still they are being pushed into unsafe professions. It is the Government's duty  to protect and revive our rural economies so that we may live with dignity and put an end to hunger by strengthening our freedoms and rights as farmers to grow India's food. India should not compromise its food soverignty – its ability to feed its own people by its own means. With such a vision for our food and farmers there is no room negotiating away the agriculture sector through such EPAs, the WTO and FTAs.

We demand:
·       The full text of the agreement is made public;
·       A study of the impacts on the key constituents is carried out
·       State government are consulted and a consensus is reached;
·       Consultations are conducted with key constituents such as farmers,  fishworkers, trade unions and other peoples organizations
·       The text is debated and discussed in parliament;

Signed by:
Ch Mahinder Singh Tikait, Bhartiya Kisan Union
Yudhvir Singh, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Delhi
Rakesh Tikait, Bhartiya Kisan Union, UP
Gurnam Singh, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Haryana
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Punjab
Jagdish Singh, Bhartiya Kisan Union, M.P.
Sukhdev Singh Gill, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Himachal Pradesh
Vijay Jawandhia, Maharashtra
Kodiahalli Chandra Sekher , Karnataka Rajya Ryotha Sanga (KRRS) , Karnataka
P.Raveendranath,Kerala Coconut Farmers Association( KCFA), Kerela
Nallagounder, Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, Tamil Nadu
S.Kannaiyan, Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, Tamil Nadu

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