'RCEP trade deal will hit 10 crore dairy farmers'

'RCEP trade deal will hit 10 crore dairy farmers'

Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah (DH Photo)

The proposed free trade agreement (FTA) for dairy products under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will hit more than 10 crore farmers in Karnataka, former chief minister Siddaramaiah warned on Wednesday. 

The import of “cheap products” will hurt the state’s farmers and cause rural distress, the Congress leader said in a series of tweets, hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

“Narendra Modi government’s proposal to sign free trade agreement of dairy products under RCEP is against the interests of our farmers and this shall be vehemently opposed. More than 10 crore farmers are dependent on dairy farming for their livelihood. Import of cheap products will hurt them and cause rural distress. Karnataka alone produces more than 86 lakh litres of milk and other dairy products,” Siddaramaiah said. 

When he was chief minister, Siddaramaiah said, the government had increased the subsidy for milk producers to Rs 5 per litre under the Ksheera Dhare scheme.

“We also launched Ksheera Bhagya to ensure full utilisation of excess milk and address malnourishment issues in children. FTA will only nullify all these,” he said. 

The Congress had raised these concerns during the winter session of the legislature earlier this month when the proposed import of dairy products from Australia and New Zealand was opposed. “Dairy products of Australia and New Zealand are much cheaper, which will make it difficult for our farmers to compete in the market. This will perish their livelihood, which was strengthened after white revolution,” Siddaramaiah said. 

International relations, he said, should enable “domestic transformation by accelerating growth, preserving autonomy and protecting our people’s interests. Unfortunately, under Narendra Modi, it is collusion with cronies, submit to foreigners and kill of common man.”