New Delhi: Working on the government's agenda to double the farmers' income by 2022, Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday said the interest of the farmers is foremost.
Tomar said this in reply to a question asked by IANS regarding bringing dairy products under the purview of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
IANS asked the minister what are the views of the Agriculture ministry on bringing dairy products under the purview of the RCEP? Tomar said, "Farmers' interest if foremost for us and as far as RCEP is concerned, we have already informed the Commerce Ministry about our stand?"
"We try to ensure that our products are not harmed by the products of other countries," he added.
The RCEP is a proposed free-trade agreement (FTA) between the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its six FTA partners - China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations on the proposed trade agreement between these countries are in the final stage.
The dairy products producers are apprehensive that if the dairy products are included in the RCEP, the imported duty-free milk powder and other milk products from Australia and New Zealand will enter the Indian market at cheap rates, hence it will harm the farmers and dairy products producers of the country.
Currently the milk producers in the country are getting an average price of Rs 28-Rs 30 per litre for milk, but once the cheaper milk powder and other products from New Zealand start entering the Indian market, they won't get this rate, Ashwini Mahajan, the national co-convener of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, told IANS.
He said that the government should consider this seriously as this is in the interest of the farmers of the country.
Earlier on Tuesday Mahajan tweeted, "Lakhs of Gujarati women associated with the dairy business have sent a postcard to their brother Narendra Modi asking to stop RCEP and save their livelihood."
The inclusion of RCEP would affect 6.5 crore cattle farmers of the country who are producing milk, National Dairy Development Board Chairman Dilip Rath told IANS on Monday.
India is the largest producer as well as consumer of milk in the world.