Farmers’ outfits have urged the Central government to stay out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which, they say, will be detrimental to farmers and will augment agrarian distress further in the country.To register their protest against RCEP, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) has decided to submit memorandums at all district headquarters across Punjab on Thursday. “We will submit a letter-cum-memorandum addressed to Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal through all Deputy Commissioners in the State. We want India not to sign the RCEP. In any further movement of negotiations, India should ensure that agriculture is kept out of the pact,” said Harinder Singh, general secretary, BKU.‘No benefits’ Mr. Singh said there are no apparent benefits for Indian farmers; instead, they will be adversely affected by dumping of heavily subsidised products, with nearly no tariff barriers possible and no protection mechanism either.“The IPR [intellectual property rights] clauses are likely to seriously impinge on farmers’ seed freedom. We are particularly concerned about the dairy and plantation sector as RCEP poses threat to livelihoods that these sectors support. RCEP will be a disaster for Indian farmers,” he said.The RCEP seeks to establish a free trade zone encompassing India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and 10 ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) members. The final ministerial round will begin on November 1. The meeting of Heads of States to sign the pact is scheduled for November 4.Farmers in Punjab have been staging protests under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti (KMSS). “If the government goes ahead with this pact, we are ready to lay our lives. We won’t let this happen. This [RCEP] agreement is detrimental to the interest of farmers,” Sarwan Singh Pandher, the general secretary of the Punjab unit of KMSS, said.“There’s hardly any dependable mechanism of government procurement of crops on the minimum support price [MSP] in most parts of the country. There’s exploitation at the hands of commission agents [Arhtiyas], who most of the times buy the produce from farmers below MSP on one pretext or another. In such a scenario, if foreign produce starts coming to our markets then the condition of local farmers will only worsen,” he said.