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Agriculture Minister invites Farmers' Organisations for another round of talks, urges to end Protests amid rising cases of Covid 19

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
Farmers

Even as police fired tear gas and water cannons in a second day of clashes over the march to New Delhi, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar asked farmers to end their protests against the new central laws and offered talks next week.

"The government has always been willing to talk to farmers about their concerns. On the 3rd of December, we've invited farmers' organizations to another round of discussions. I implore them to refrain from unrest in light of COVID-19 and the approaching winter "Mr. Tomar said.

Upon two days of clashes, authorities permitted the farmers, some of whom hurled stones and smashed barricades, to reach the capital under police escort to stage a protest against agricultural reforms they believe would make them vulnerable to large corporations.

Hundreds of officers had been stationed at various entry points to the capital, parking trucks full of sand and erecting barbed wire to block the farmers' route. Farmers are dissatisfied with laws enacted earlier this year that allow them to sell their produce to anybody at any price rather than to state-controlled markets with guaranteed prices.

They claim that the new laws deregulating the large agriculture industry would make small farmers vulnerable to multinational agribusinesses, and that price subsidies for staples such as wheat and rice could be withdrawn.

PM Modi praised it as a "true transformation of the agriculture sector" that would save "tens of millions of farmers" while also encouraging much-needed investment and modernization.

According to the government, there are no plans to abolish bulk markets, and farmers will sell to these yards as well as large supermarkets like WalMart. It aspires to attract new investment to the agricultural sector and improve supply chains that waste one-fourth of India's produce. "The new laws have the potential to bring revolutionary change to the lives of farmers," Mr Tomar had said.

However, the main opposition Congress party, which is in control in Punjab, where many of the protesters originated, claims that the move would enable private companies to manipulate farmers.

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