Farmers from across South India gathered at the port city of Mangalore in Karnataka to protest against the WTO and Free Trade Agreements.
More than 2000 farmers walked from Mangalore APMC till Mangalore Port, carrying placards and banners against the WTO’s biased policies which favour only rich countries and big multinational companies, while robbing the livelihoods of small farmers and peasants.
Their chief demand was to stop the import of duty-free Toor Dal (yellow lentils) and palm oil which are widely grown in South India. But due to the cheap imports, Indian farmers cannot sell their produce at even their cost of production, and thus starts the whole vicious cycle of debt and poverty. Since India, with its large population is a big market for any multinational company, they enter our shops and our local farmers are left standing outside with their produce.
The WTO’s 9th Minesterial currently underway at Bali will further allow companies to dump cheap food in our markets. Hence members from a number of farmers’ movements in South India, led by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene marched from the main farmers’ market in Mangalore to the port which is the entry point of cheap imports.
The other groups that took part in the protest were Adivasi Gotra Maha Sabha Kerala, Shethkari Association Maharashtra, Kerala Coconut Growers Association, Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association and the Andhra Pradesh Farmers’ Associations.
The farmers’ leaders then presented a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India through AC Dr. Prashanth, making clear that their lives were at stake because of the free trade policies being pushed by the rich countries.