A Research and Advocacy Project which Aimed to Study the Impact of the WTO Agreements on the Livelihood of Farmers in the Himalaya–Hindukush Region of India

CUTS Calcutta Resource Centre (CRC) implemented a project entitled, Farmers Rights to Livelihood, a research and advocacy project which aimed to study the impact of the WTO Agreements on the livelihood of farmers in the Himalaya–Hindukush region of India, including eastern and western Himalayas. SAWTEE, Kathmandu, was the coordinating agency for the project implemented over a five year period from 2002 to 2007 in five South Asian Countries, viz. Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (in Candy Hill Area), in association with member organisations in the respective countries.

The main objective of the project was to make strategic interventions, which will contribute to securing farmers’ rights to livelihood in the hill Himalayan region (Candy Hill region in case of Sri Lanka) in the context of liberalisation, globalisation and the WTO (World Trade Organisation) agreements. The research agenda aimed at highlighting the good and bad practices prevailing in the region, assessing the threats & mechanisms in place to protect the rights of the target communities and hence providing recommendations on how the problem could be resolved. Advocacy and dissemination component of the project aimed at empowering local communities towards exercising existing rights, strengthening the existing network and sensitising elected representatives, policy makers, trade negotiators academia and media to uplift the life of mountain communities by addressing poverty and livelihood issues.

Specific objectives included:

  • Establishing a preliminary database on the products, biodiversity, indigenous medicines, indigenous arts, crafts and knowledge, which need to be protected against illegal patents
  • Collecting empirical evidence on the good and bad practices and course of action to be followed.
  • Ensuring farmers’ rights to a range of mountain products and resources that may come under threat due to the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
  • Assessing the likely impact, possible opportunities and threats of liberalisation, structural adjustment and globalisation and recommend strategies to optimise gains and mitigate the adverse impact on mountain people and mountain resources.
  • Assessing the impact of international, national and sub-national legislation, effectiveness of local institutions in empowering the people in customary and traditional regimes in mountain areas.
  • The project intended to create a system of sustainable agriculture by ensuring justified property rights on the farm resources and traditional knowledge (TK).

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