Farmers committing suicide is a problem being faced even by the United States, said US Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in the Capital on Tuesday.
In per capita terms, the number in both countries would the same, Johanns added. A "complex issue," he said one of the major cause was financial distress.
Speaking at a meet on 'Indo-US Agriculture Trade and the Doha Round : Reaping Benefits of Partnership' organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, he said there was a misconception on the issue of farmers subsidy in US. "Sixty per cent of US farmers get no cash subsidy whatsoever. "
Forty per cent farmers get subsidy but 93 per cent of it goes just to farmers growing five crops including corn, wheat, soybean, rice, he added.
In terms of domestic support or subsidy to farmers US is not the greatest supporter in the world but European Union which gave three or four times what US gave to its farmers. Japan is the second biggest supporter of farmers followed by US, he pointed out.
He said WTO's Amber box dealt with most trade distorting subsidies. "Today US has $19.1 billion in the Amber box. We want to cut that by 60 per cent and take it down to $7.6 billion.
"In Blue Box which dealt with not so distorting subsidies, the world including India wants it to be brought to 5 per cent but US is prepared to reduce it to 2.5 per cent," he said.
However, this re-structuring and reform would depend on market access, he said.
Johanns said, "The US keeps harping on market access as a condition for fulfilling its own proposals because all studies under Doha round have shown that lifting world economy and millions of people above poverty will only come from market access. If you close your market today, you have to pay a heavy price for this." Johanns warned.
Developing countries like Brazil, China, India, South Korea who can compete in world market are protecting 95 to 98 per cent access to their agricultural market making "very difficult" the proposals for subsidy reduction to get through in US Senate and House, he added.
Secretary Commerce GK Pillai said that while Indian exports to US were in agriculture goods which were not produced in US and thus did not affect their farmers, US imports into India affected our subsistence farmers and we did have money for a safety net for millions.