Nelly Bassily | August 11, 2008
Through FRW, we endeavour to keep you posted on global decision-making that affects small scale African farmers. This often means following UN conferences or international trade talks. But when ministerial meetings designed to revive the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations broke down in Geneva, Switzerland, at the end of July, the impact on small scale farmers was difficult to discern. As this story indicates, many people have called the talks’ collapse the “Death of Doha” while others believe that the talks are merely stalled. Whether the “death” or stalling of negotiations is positive or negative is also open to interpretation. Ministers representing an countries in Geneva indicated a strong preference for the talks to move forward, as they sought a reduction in developed-country subsidies on export crops, particularly cotton. However, La Via Campesina expressed a view shared by many anti-globalization groups when it stated that “this collapse is a victory in the long struggle against WTO.”
The following links will help you find additional information on the Doha Development Round and the implications of their collapse:
-WTO’s July 30, 2008 press release on the collapse of talks: http://allafrica.com/stories/200807300068.html
-Wikipedia entry on the Doha Development Round with details on the history of the negotiations, including the breakdown of the latest talks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doha_Round
-Inter Press Service’s analytical commentary “Safeguards for small farmers straw that broke Doha”: http://allafrica.com/stories/200808050419.html
-Afrik.com summary of Africa’s role in the talks “Le fiasco de l’OMC laisse l’Afrique sur le carreau” (in French only): http://www.afrik.com/article14896.html
You may wish to further investigate the impact of current WTO trade rules on small scale farmers in your country, as well as what is at stake for local farmers in the Doha Development Round. Good sources of information may include: representatives from trade ministries, leaders of national farm organizations, and NGOs that specialize in agriculture and trade issues. As with all controversial issues, be sure that you hear a number of different perspectives. You could share this information with your audience in the form of a news report or a round-table discussion followed by a call-in/text-in show that allows listeners to ask any questions.