Agriculture

Bangladesh has indeed succeeded in attaining food security. However, in the recent times, there have been some issues that have posed threat. Devastating natural calamities have impacted food grain production adversely. On the other hand, some leading rice exporting countries such as India, Vietnam and Egypt have banned exports. The result is hike in the prices of agricultural commodities especially wheat and rice and in this situation, the low income group category faces the maximum brunt.

The final blueprint of agriculture text for the mini-Ministerial beginning July 21, 2008, is finally out. The draft text is indicative of the final position around which the search for the landing Zone would begin. Eighteen papers have been circulated since the negotiations started following the suspension of the Doha Round in July 2006. The current position is the outcome of a series of meetings, discussions, and constant feedback from various global organisations about the probable impact on different countries. Agricultural Negotiation Committee Chairman Crawford Falconer has been careful on each sub-pillar before he circulated the final text for the Ministerial meet.

Though the current draft on agriculture is definitely an improvement over the text circulated in July 2006, it still does not sufficiently address the concerns of the developing countries. The biggest challenge that will confront negotiators is the horizontal process while balancing NAMA and Agriculture. The development over the years on various aspects clearly indicates that with more discussions better development-friendly positions are emerging and any haste in clinching a partial deal will leave the development issues fairly unaddressed and unbalanced. Furthermore, it is important to understand how the current position affects agricultural trade gains of developing countries that deserve a better deal. The current brief tries to assess the development content of the present blueprint which has emerged after a ‘walk in the woods’!