Thursday, 20 September 2012

Cotton farmers protest against FDI in retail-TIMES OF INDIA

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Cotton farmers protest against FDI in retail

A section of cotton growers in Eastern Maharashtra's Vidarbha region joined the protest against the government's reform of allowing 51% foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail. Their protest was organized by Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) in two villages, Hiwara and Moha.

Farmers who were part of the protests alleged that thousands of farmers had already committed suicides in the cotton growing region of Vidarbha due to the state's pro-multinational policies in agriculture.

VJAS leader, Kishore Tiwari said the latest reforms proposed by the Indian Government such as allowing 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail sector, along with the hike in diesel prices and subsidy cuts, would pave the way for MNCs to control the agrarian economy.

"We want national debate over FDI in retail. Mounting debt is already a huge problem for farmers here. Vidarbha is a perfect example that shows how allowing foreign investments in agriculture inputs allows MNCs to build monopolies, giving rise to unfair trade practices like cartelization," he said.

Tiwari alleged that over 9,000 farmers have committed suicide since 2005, when an American seed corporation that produced genetically modified Bt cotton seeds was allowed to do business in Vidarbha. Following continuous and strong opposition, the Maharashtra government ultimately agreed to ban Bt cotton in the region, but the decision came after several farmers lost their lives.

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