Farming protests continue against new agriculture laws in India

Rakesh Prashara and Greens of Colour committee member Dr Satnam Deuchakar explain why farmers continue to protest against new agriculture laws in India’s capital.

Indian farmers protest
Rakesh Prashara

The situation in Delhi, the capital of India, is quite dire, as farmers continue to protest against the new agriculture laws that were implemented on 27 September 2020. The new laws have slackened the rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce that has protected farmers for decades from an unfettered free market. 

After two months of protests across the country, hundreds of thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, began a movement towards Delhi. Protestors have blocked roads and demonstrated on railway lines around the nation's capital, which has caused disturbances across India.

There is growing concern that the protests coupled with the raging pandemic will result in dire consequences for the protesting farmers and further cripple India's farming sector.  Over recent weeks the Indian Government has looked for ways to amend the new laws to quell the protests.  But these efforts have failed and the protesting farmers are now threatening to block railways and roads across the country and specifically routes into the capital New Delhi.

Greens of Colour committee member and Global Peace and Goodwill Ambassador Dr Satnam Deuchakar said: “No one can convince me that these new laws are going to support the farmers, the Government itself has already agreed that there are errors within the bills. I have personally reached out to the Indian Government to find amicable solutions that will disperse the protests.”

“I am extremely concerned about my sibling farmers and hope that the Government finds a solution as quickly as possible, because the cases of Covid-19 in New Delhi are increasing fast and we could have a humanitarian crisis on our hands before too long.”

“There is an added concern that these new laws will eliminate the safety net of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system that has since 1965 supported farmers,” Deuchakar continued.

“[The farmers] are demanding written assurances that the MSP system remains unchanged.”

The current situation could drive up food prices for the rest of the world, as according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, India is the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, groundnuts and vegetables.

Over the weekend protests spread to the UK, as people from the Indian diaspora came out to show their support in Birmingham, despite tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions being in place. In London and Leicester, people adhered to restrictions and formed rallies of hundreds of cars, displaying placards and banners in support for the Indian farmers.