Farmers say no to SEZs, GM crops

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, March 31: | Updated: Apr 1 2008, 04:08am hrs
Indian farmers supported by their brethren in other countries have called for agrarian reforms for the benefit of small and marginal landholders. They said that farmlands should not be confiscated for setting up of special economic zones (SEZs) or for industrial activity. They called for stopping of harassment of the senior farmer leader, Mahendra Singh Tikait.

The resolutions passed by the farmers conclave hosted jointly by the Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers' Movement and La Via Campesina in Delhi on Monday urged the government to stop its anti-farmer activities.

"Small and marginal farmers and the rural landless are facing harsh living conditions all over the world. Same is the case in India. Neoliberal corporate globalization driven by WTO has forced countries to open up their domestic markets for imports. As a result, farmers are losing their livelihood and even their lives, " the resolution said.

The farmer leaders alleged that more than 1,50,000 peasants have committed suicide in India since the government embarked on the path of neo-liberalisation. The policies of the Indian government was to reduce the number of farmers, they said.

The resolutions also called for a moratorium on GM crops and increasing domestic support to farmers. "The government instead of supporting the farmers directly are pampering the corporates in agri-business," the farmer leaders said.

A special resolution expressed concerns over the undue harassment of the senior farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait by the UP government and urged the Union government to intervene in the matter. The farmers have decided to meet the prime minister, Manmohan Singh in this connection. Among the farmer leaders who participated in the conclave included Yudhvir Singh, Ajmer Singh (president BKU-Punjab) Sellamuttu (president, Tamilnadu Farmers' Organisation), Chukki Nanjundasswamy, Venkata Reddy (vice president, KRRS and Green Brigade, Karnataka) and Ravi of Coconut Farmers' Association, Kerala. From La Via Campesina , Henri Saragih, Namesia Achacollo, Alberto Gomez and Lucia Marina participated in the conclave.