Indian government and farmers’ union to begin more talks

The Indian central government will host another round of talks with protesting Indian farmers today. Farmers in Punjab and Harayan

india farmer protest

Photo: Reuters

The Indian central government will host another round of talks with protesting Indian farmers today.

Farmers in Punjab and Harayan have protested en masse against three new bills passed last September, which would loosen regulations around pricing, sale and storage of produce. The farmers claim the new laws leave them vulnerable to exploitation by large corporations. In nine rounds of talks, government and farming representatives have reached consensus on two issues: the government will continue to subsidise electricity and will not punish farmers for burning crop residue.

The bills have illuminated environmental concerns in the agricultural sector. The government-backed food procurement system has encouraged excessive farming in Punjab and Harayan, leading to declining water levels and increased water pollution, while farmers rely on government procurement to earn a liveable wage.

Expect today’s talks to end in another impasse, despite the governments hope for a resolution, and protests to intensify in the short-term, since farmers are set on repealing rather than amending the laws. It is unlikely that the laws will be repealed, and farmers will continue to demand the government set minimum prices for crops.

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