December 15, 2005, The Himachal Times
Dehradun, India

Farmers must have their say on the question of sharing the natural resources preserved by them over hundreds of years. This was emphasized at a capacity building workshop organized in Dehradun by Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), Calcutta and the Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) Dehradun.

In the context of WTO, the question of prior informed consent of the farmers and the principals of benfit sharing by them with any external individual, institution or organization has become extremely important. Vijay Kumar Dhaundiyal, additional secretary, Minster of Agriculture, Government of Uttaranchal, inaugurated the workshop.

In his keynote address, SMA Kazmi described the plight of farmers in the mountain regions of the country, especially in the central Himalayas, inspite of the extremely rich natural resources of the region, and their profound traditional knowledge in this regard. He observed that the WTO regime has put intense pressure on our government to do away with all kind subsidies and determined by the developed countries regarding agriculture seeds, crops etc.

Among the other speaks and participants Shishir Prashant, Dr. Ghayur Alam, Director Centre for Sustainable Development, Dehradun, discussed briefly the basic issue concerning WTO and its pros and cons in respect of the farmers and their rights.

Kunwar Prasun of “Beej Bachao Andolan” from Tehri Garhwal shared elaborately the traditional knowledge and practices of the farmers of Garhwal Himalayas, which are now increasingly threatening by the tendencies of monoculture.

A large number of farmers and NGO functionaries from different parts of Garhwal participated in the day long discussion.

Many of them raised a number of relevant questions and gave their observations and perception about the external interventio0ns and the extremely inadequate role of the government. Prof Nabin Sen of the Calcutta University wrapped up the workshop.