PM assures of protecting interest of Kerala’s farmers


New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday assured Kerala that interests of the state farmers will be taken care of after chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan expressed fears that a trade agreement with ASEAN nations would affect the state’s agriculture.

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Mammohan Singh agreed to give the Kerala government a copy of the text of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“He (prime minister) has directed officials to give a copy of the text to Kerala,” Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan told reporters after his meeting with the prime minister.

The prime minister also assured the state that a representative from Kerala will be included in the cabinet sub-committee to be formed to study the impact of the FTA on the agriculture sector.

“The prime minister has assured that the interests of the Kerala farmers would be taken care of,” Achuthanandan said.

He said that the Kerala government will also conduct a study to see how the ASEAN agreement would effect Kerala farming sector.

Achuthanandan also expressed hopes that the prime minister’s assurance to Kerala would be implemented.

Besides the prime minister, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma attended the meeting. The delegation led by Achuthanandan submitted a memorandum to the prime minister on Kerala and the Indo-ASEAN FTA.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury and other Left MPs from Kerala and including two ministers from the state – Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Rathnakaran and Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran – were part of the delegation.