New Delhi: India has reiterated its call for a permanent solution to the food security issue at the World Trade Organisation at a WTO meet in Morocco’s Marrakesh, an official statement said on Wednesday.

Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu “emphasised that a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes must be a part of the outcomes achieved, as this is an issue of tremendous importance not only to India but also several other developing countries,” said a Commerce Ministry statement here.

Prabhu was speaking at the informal WTO ministerial meeting in Marrakesh held on October 9-10.

He also called for reducing the “disproportionately” large subsidies given by developed countries to their farmers.

Underlining the importance of the special and differential treatment given to developing countries in the WTO, Prabhu said that “India would be willing to engage on proposals that recognised this right for all developing countries without exception”.

Noting that about 600 million people are dependent on agriculture in India, and nearly 98 per cent of farmers are in the low income category and mostly into subsistence farming, Prabhu said: “Under such circumstances, it is imperative for India to balance trade liberalisation with the need to protect the livelihood of its farmers.”

He called for the continuation of the reform process in agriculture sector and avoid further widening of the imbalance between developed and developing countries.

On the move by rich economies to introduce new issues for discussion in the WTO, Prabhu called upon members to first deal with the issues which were already under negotiation, before moving to new ones.

Developed economies want inclusion of certain new issues like investment facilitation and e-commerce in the WTO agenda.

This informal WTO ministerial meeting was held in preparation for the 11th ministerial conference slated to take place in Buenos Aires in December.