WTO AND THE INDIAN AGRICULTURE
Prospects and Challenges
With the operationalisation of the provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO),
» The process of globalisation commenced in the major parts of the world.
» The non-member countries in the coming few years, also started negotiating for entry into the club.
» Had the agriculture of the leading and politically vocal developing economies not be of subsistence level.
» The course of the world would have been completely different.
» It is the biggest hurdle in the process of globalisation and he success of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
According to the joint document, the WTO provision were supposed to have the following positive impacts on the world trade.
i) By 2005 there will be an addition of 745 billion in the world merchandise trade.
ii) The GATT Secretariat provided a full breakup of the above projected trade increase in the following way
a) The clothing sector to have a share of 60 percent.
b) The Agricultural, forestry and fisheries products to have a share of 20 percent.
c) The processed food, beverages and drinks to have a share of 19 percent.
» The first category of challenges pertains to the area of relavent preparations, investment and restructuring of agriculture.
» The second category of challenges are nothing less than a revision in the very agricultural provisions of the WTO itself (around which today revolves the success and failure of the organisation itself).
The challenges before the Indian Agriculture
i) self-sufficiency of food
ii) price stability
iii) cropping pattern
iv) weaker sections
v) WTO commitments
NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT
The National Food Security Act was enacted by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution of end December 2013.
Major highlights of the programme are as given below
i) It will cover upto 75 percent rural and 50 percent urban population with uniform entitlement of 5 kg food grains per month at highly subsidised prices of Rs.3, Rs.2 and Rs.1 per kg for rice, wheat and coares grains, respectively.
» The poorest of poor households continue to receive 35 kg food grain per household per month under the Antyodaya Anna Yojna at the same subsidised prices.
ii) It provision for special focus on nutritional support to women and children pregnant women and lactating mothers, beside being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms will also received maternity benefit of atleast of Rs.6,000.
» Children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to take home rotation or hot cooked food as per prescribed nutritional norms.
iii) Eldest woman of eighteen years of age or above will be head of the household for issue of Ration Card and if not available, the eldest male member is to be the head of the household.
iv) For effective implementation, the Act also contains provisions for reforms in PDS though doorstep delivery of food grains, applications of information and Communication Technology (ICT) including end-to-end computerisation, 'Everaging Aadhaar' for identification of beneficiaries, diversification of commodities under TPDS, etc.
v) The act provisions state and district level redressal mechanism with designated officer.
vi) Provisions have also been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of vigilance committee in order to ensure transparency and accountability.