‘Must understand difference between farming for food, profit’

Chennai, July 27 (IANS) The difference between commercial agriculture and farming to erase hunger and malnutrition should be understood at the 10th ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation, a top agricultural scientist has said.

“The difference between agriculture as a commercial occupation and agriculture as a means of abolishing hunger and malnutrition will have to be clearly understood at the 10th ministerial meeting of WTO scheduled to be held in Nairobi this December,” said M.S. Swaminathan in a statement here.

He said industrialised countries should understand and acknowledge the human dimensions of trade in food grains.

“Developed countries have safeguarded the extensive financial support they are giving to their farmers through the green box provision. It is high time that there is also a Food Security Box which can help countries adopt farm support policies which can help them achieve the Zero Hunger Challenge launched by the UN Secretary General,” he said.

According to Swaminathan, agriculture was essentially a commercial occupation in developed countries where hardly 5 percent of the population depend on it for their livelihood.

“On the other hand, agriculture in many developing countries including our own is the principal occupation of a majority of rural families who depend upon crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and agro-processing for both their livelihood and household food security,” he said.

“Also, the farm size is small and the marketable surplus is low. As a result, farm families require social protection. It is wrong to designate the limited support given to them as subsidy. It will be more appropriate to refer to the assistance given as support to sustainable farming,” Swaminathan said.

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