KOCHI: The Centre should take the state governments into confidence before finalising the terms of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement which is expected to be signed in November this year, said Minister for Forests, Animal Husbandry and Zoos K Raju. He was speaking after inaugurating the 46th dairy industry conference organised by the Indian Dairy Association (IDA ) at Angamaly on Thursday. The minister urged the Centre to revisit and revise the objectives of the RCEP to insulate the dairy sector against competition from the developed West.
‘’It may be noted countries like Australia and New Zealand which have recorded excess milk production are the leading dairy exporters globally. The inflow of cheap raw materials for reconstituted milk may adversely affect the market for natural milk produced by farmers in India. This will affect both the producers and consumers. Opening up the dairy sector in haste to global competition will be a recipe for disaster unless the small-scale producers are backed by necessary policies,’’ Raju said.
According to him, “The Centre should bring all the stakeholders to the negotiating table. Along with this, an in-depth research and analytical studies to measure the RCEP’s fallout on the dairy sector should be conducted. It is pretty important for the government to seek active engagement of dairy farmer groups to save the country’s dairy sector.”
The minister presented the Varghese Kurian Award to Milma chairman P T Gopalakurup and Dairywoman of the Year Award to P B Jini of Thiruvananthapuram. Ruby Thakur, Neetu Yadav and Prachi Abhay Patil also shared the award. Indian Diary Association patronship awards were presented to R G Chandramogan, R M Acharya and Ratan Sagar Khanna. The three-day conference is being attended by around 2,000 participants.