|International Trade in Agricultural Commodities: Some Implications for Environment and Sustainable Development (Research Paper 13) (IRMA, 1994)|
Removal of barriers to international trade or free trade is one of the major elements of the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) now underway in India. This paper explores the likely impacts of free international trade in agricultural commodities on environment and sustainable development with special reference to India.
The author argues that like most developing countries India critically depends on natural resources for her economic development. Mindless pursuit of commercial activities and unplanned industrialisation in the country over the last 40 years or so have already taken a heavy toll on its natural resources and quality of environment. Given the relative insignificance of export of agricultural commodities from India in its gross domestic product and in the total world export, even doubling or trebling of export of agricultural commodities is not going to make any ripples in India. On the contrary, unregulated international trade in agricultural commodities may speed up the pace of natural resources depletion and environmental degradation.
* The author is thankful to Dr. S.L. Shetty, Director, Research Foundation, Economic and Political Weekly, Bombay and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this paper. The author alone is, however, responsible for the views expressed in this paper.