Sugarcane farmers’ protest intensifies ahead of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s Visit

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New Delhi: Farmers have launched a week-long protest ahead of the Brazilian President Jair Boslonaro’s visit to India as chief guest at Republic Day Celebration on January 26. The agitations that began from January 18 will continue till January 25.

Brazil is the world’s largest producer of sugarcane and exporter of sugar. Bolsonaro has objected over the subsidies granted to the sugar sector and raised the issue with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The farmers’ organisations including All India Sugarcane Farmers’
Federation (AISSF) is leading the agitation and have condemned the BJP-led Modi government’s decision to invite Bolsonaro as chief guest.

Ashok Dhawle, all-India president of AIKS (All India Kisan Sabha) said, “AISFF, AIKS, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and the like-minded organisations are protesting jointly against Bolsonaro’s visit. Crucial issue of the campaign and the protest is that the sugarcane price must be according to the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP). And of course, his (Bolsonaro’) fascist ideology will also be highlighted.”

Brazil, Australia and Guatemala had objected India’s sugar policy at WTO. The countries alleged that India’s sugar subsidies are inconsistent with global trade rules and distorting the sugar market. Also, they claim it aids in building a global sugar surplus, which is ultimately affecting the farmers and millers of their respective countries.

Countering the claims, India had maintained that its subsidies are in line with the WTO rule. The Indian sugar industry is suffering from various hurdles from last two to three years, and to bring the sector out of the crisis, the government had introduced various measures like soft loan scheme, hike in minimum selling price, scrapping of export duty, 100 per cent rise in import duty, hike in sugarcane price and others.

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