Fearing the import of cheap foreign cotton, the All India Kisan sabha termed the decision of the Narendra Modi’s government to exempt all cotton imports from April 14 to September 30 as “unilateral” and “at the behest of corporate textile companies.” It claimed that it would lead to an inflow of cheap foreign cotton.
The farmers’ regulatory body claimed the government didn’t ensure them assured remunerative prices and procurement of cotton grown by farmers in India. “Cotton imports were being taxed at about 11 percent, including cess and surcharges, in India. This move comes without ensuring assured remunerative prices and procurement of cotton grown by farmers in India. It is likely to lead to an inflow of cheap cotton from China, Brazil, United States of America and other places,” the AIKS said.
Highlighting the highest number of Suicides by the farmers in the cotton belt of India, they warned of the absence of effective procurement and a Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) to ward off the adverse impact of such inflow on prices which could lead to a further burden on the crisis-ridden cotton farmers in our country.
The Centre termed this decision as a necessity to help the textile industry cope with the raw material shortages. The Finance Ministry says that the scrapping of import duties was necessitated due to below-expected yields in the country and surge in domestic cotton prices.
“On the pretext that the move is to ease the pressure on domestic textile industries’ export competitiveness vis-a-vis fellow competitors, it goes on to the unfounded claim that it would also provide relief to the consumers”, said AIKS President Ashok Dhawale. He further added, “It is a well-known fact that the big corporate textile industries never transfer benefits of cheaper raw materials to consumers as they are driven only by the motive of profit maximisation.”
AIKS General Secretary Hannan Mollah claimed that this decision of the BJP government will spell disaster for the cotton farmers of our country “who already are in acute crisis and unable to realise remunerative prices”.
“There is no protection guaranteed to the cotton farmer in the form of assured procurement at remunerative prices at least one and a half times the cost of production as of now. Inflow of raw cotton will lead to a further crash in prices and in absence of effective price stabilisation, the burden of such crashes will fall on the poor farmers of India. This is the experience when import duty of raw silk was done away with,” he said.
The AIKS has demanded that the BJP government must withdraw the decision, reinstate import duties on cotton and make arrangements to procure farmers’ produce at remunerative prices.
Calling upon its units in the cotton growing states to rise in protest against the “insensitive decision”, it demanded “the government, instead of foregoing revenue by scrapping import duties, should incentivise farmers”.
(inputs from IANS)