What's new

Why Indian farmers are protesting against new farm bills


Dec 14, 2008
United Kingdom

Seems like Sikhs not happy with Modi either.

Why Indian farmers are protesting against new farm bills
Farmers shout slogans and burn an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the outskirts of Amritsar, Punjab [Narinder Nanu/AFP]

Farmers shout slogans and burn an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the outskirts of Amritsar, Punjab [Narinder Nanu/AFP]
23 Sep 2020
7 hours ago
Farmers in several Indian states are protesting against three new bills the government says will open up the tightly-controlled agriculture sector to free-market forces.
The bills, passed by India’s parliament this week, make it easier for farmers to sell their produce directly to private buyers and enter into a contract with private companies. The government hopes private sector investments will stimulate growth.
Seaweed tides over Bali islanders after tourism slumpWho is to blame for Zimbabwe’s land reform disaster?India passes farm bills amid uproar by opposition in parliamentUSDA plans additional $14bn for farmers reeling from pandemic
Part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agricultural reform policy, the laws will also allow traders to stock food items. Hoarding food items for the purpose of making a profit was a criminal offence in India.
The government has left us at the mercy of big corporations.
The main opposition Congress party has called the bills “black law” and “pro-corporate”. Its top leader Rahul Gandhi accused Modi of “making farmers ‘slaves’ of the capitalists…”.
But Modi has defended the move. “For decades, the Indian farmer was bound by various constraints and bullied by middlemen. The bills passed by Parliament liberate the farmers from such adversities,” he said in a Twitter post.
Under the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act passed in 1964, it was compulsory for farmers to sell their produce at government-regulated markets, or mandis, where middlemen helped growers sell harvests to either the state-run company or private players.

The government says the monopoly of APMC mandis will end but they will not be shut down, and that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) – the price at which the government buys farm produce – will not be scrapped.

Farmers, particularly in the states of Punjab and Haryana, have protested against the government move [Narinder Nanu/AFP]The new laws give farmers additional choices to sell their produce anywhere in the country, in contrast to the earlier situation where inter-state trade was not allowed.

State governments, which earn an income through transactions at mandis, stand to lose out on tax revenues as trade moves out of state or into the domain of private deals.

The protests have been most intense in northern states of Punjab and Haryana, dubbed India’s grain bowls, where mandis are the main centres of farm trade.
Modi, who won elections on a promise of doubling farm income, has been under pressure to bring private investments to an agriculture sector that has stagnated badly.

For decades, farmers found themselves driven deeper into debt by crop failures and the inability to secure competitive prices for their produce. Finding themselves unable to cope, many have resorted to taking their own lives.
The agriculture sector contributes nearly 15 percent of India’s $2.9 trillion economy but employs about half of the country’s 1.3 billion people.
Al Jazeera spoke to farmers and experts on the issue that has become a hot-button issue in the country.
Rashpinder Singh, 27, a farmer from Punjab state
The government has left us at the mercy of big corporations. It is preposterous to believe that farmers who have small land-holdings will have any bargaining power over private players.
Government officials have said that farmers can sell their produce to whoever they want, whenever they want. How can a small farmer store his produce for months on end? He will not have access to storage facilities. As a result, it is very likely that the produce will be sold at a rate which is unsustainable for the farmer.
The bills further state that farmers can come into an agreement with private companies. Such deals are financially attractive but because there are so many terms and conditions attached, it is difficult for a farmer to cope with them. You become the slave of the company. This fight is not just about economics, but also our right to grow what we want and our self-respect.
Harvinder Singh Lakhowal, 53, member of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, the group spearheading agitation against the bills in Punjab

[Photo courtesy: Harvinder Singh Lakhowal]All assurances given by the government regarding the MSP have not been provided to farmers in writing, they are all verbal assurances.

If a farmer gets into a dispute regarding her/his contract with a private company, it will be very difficult for the farmer to have the dispute settled in her/his favour. How can a small farmer face mighty corporations like Reliance, for instance? A farmer is anyways in a difficult position since agriculture is unsustainable, and then to expect that a person will have it in her/him to fight against big companies means they will eventually be driven towards suicide.
Davinder Sharma, food and trade policy analyst
It’s quite obvious that the bills are not going to benefit the farmer and that is why they are protesting.
There are a lot of problems in the APMC mandi system, which require reforms. Nobody is denying that. But reforming the APMC mandi doesn’t mean you push the farmers from one set of middlemen to another set of middlemen. It is not a solution for agriculture.
The point is that in a country where 86 percent farmers have a land of the size of less than two hectares, you can’t expect the farmer to carry his produce to far off places to sell.

What we need is assured price for the farmers. If the markets are saying they will provide higher price to farmers, the question is higher price to what. There must be some benchmark.

[Photo courtesy Rashpinder Singh Grewal]Agriculture is suffering from a depressed pricing over the decades. Farmers have been denied the rightful income over the decades. Agriculture has been deliberately kept improvised.

Let’s reform and expand the network of APMC mandis in the country. Provide MSP to farmers and make it legally binding that there will be no trading below the MSP. Only then it is going to realise the Prime Minister’s vision of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas (together with all, development for all).
Farmers are not foolish. If they would get higher prices for their crops, will they protest on the streets amid coronavirus pandemic?
We are following the American model by bringing corporates into the agriculture.
Kavitha Kuruganti, the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture

The implications of these bills are going to be adverse because farmers actually need protection of their interests in the form of regulations. The government step to de-regulate in the hope that private players will do what the government ought to be doing itself is not going to help farmers.
The overall reading is that there are serious deficiencies in the way the bills have been drafted. Clearly, it’s meant for the agri-business companies and not the farmers. While the government more or less openly says that it’s meant for investors, it obviously has not done enough to ensure that farmers’ interests are not sacrificed.
Sudha Narayan, agricultural economist at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research
The bills are not going to hit all the farmers equally. It’s going to help some and hurt others.
Farmers have now the freedom to sell the crops to anyone. Traders can ignore what the state government legislations are and can buy directly from the farmers and build their own connections with farmers and procure, which is actually a good thing in principle.
The problem with the bills is that they are putting the farmers into the hands of the private players without any safeguards and without any regulations or discipline in terms of price setting. There is a lack of regulatory oversight and price-setting body.
The farmers in the states of Punjab and Haryana are worried that these bills are only the beginning of something larger.

What they fear is that the government will eventually dismantle the state procurement system and the MSP transaction which they depend on.
Additional reporting by Bilal Kuchay and Fateh Veer Singh
US teen charged in Kenosha shootings fights extradition
Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old charged with killing two people and injuring another during demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, appeared during a court hearing in Illinois today. [19th Judicial Circuit Court/Handout via Reuters]
‘Give diplomacy a chance’: Greece PM invites Turkey for talks
'So let's meet, let's talk and let's seek a mutually acceptable solution. Let's give diplomacy a chance,' said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan [File: Costas Baltas/Reuters]
Google to block political ads after US election polls close
Google said advertisers will not be able to run advertisements referencing candidates, the election or its outcome, according to an email seen by Bloomberg News [File: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg]
Pope Francis: COVID-19 crisis a chance to ‘come out better’
Pope Francis said rich countries should not hoard a coronavirus vaccine [File: Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]
‘Very sorry’: Kim Jong Un apologises for killing of South Korean
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un has apologised to the South over the fatal shooting of a fisheries official earlier this week [File: KCNA via Reuters]
Republican leader vows peaceful power transfer, splits with Trump
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans spoke out about Trump not committing to a peaceful transition [J Scott Applewhite/AP Photo]
World in disarray: Angry exchanges at top UN meeting on COVID-19
The acrimonious meeting of the Security Council took place virtually rather than in-person [File: Mark Garten/United Nations via AFP]
Indian farmers block roads, railways over farm bills
Farmers in Punjab state gesture as they block a national highway during a protest against farm bills [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Follow Al Jazeera English:

© 2020 Al Jazeera Media Network
We use cookies to give you the best possible experience. Learn more about how we use cookies or edit your cookie preferences.


Salman Baig


New Recruit

Sep 18, 2019
When govt mandi still exists and this new bill only give them Option to sell to private buyers so why they are protesting? What I am missing?

Mad Scientist 2.0

Apr 14, 2020
When govt mandi still exists and this new bill only give them Option to sell to private buyers so why they are protesting? What I am missing?
There are two things here.

First is there is no adequete safeguard for the farmers. Like the price will be settled in favour of the buyers not in favour of the sellers. If there is more production then the price of the products will be below to the capital utilised . Although there is a condition that farmers can easily refuse but most farmers doesn't have the means to do it as their capital is low they can't store the products in storage to sell later.

Secondly, They are also relaxing the regulation on hoarding . A implication will be that there is abundance in food but due to hoarding there will be acute shortage of that in market . Price will soar and common people including farmers will face the heat. They sell cheap but buy dear. Kind of like what east India companies did.


Dec 26, 2018
United Kingdom
The whole India is under the grip of protests by the farmers against Modis farm reform bills. There is a Bharat bandh going on where all the trains and roads are blocked. The military convoys are also not allowed to move freely, these protests have brought India down to its knees.

View attachment 673458
I have been enjoying the songs Khalistani/Punjabi singers are making against modi sitting in dehli 🤣 btw Its understandable why they are flippin it as Farmers blocking indian army... jaha jai kisan jai jawan ka nara tha waha ab Kisan vs Jawan kardo or sakoon se beth k maze lo 🤣 but they are not seeing the picture which says k it can turn it into a civil war

Hakikat ve Hikmet

Nov 14, 2015
United States
United States
Modi/RSS/BJP/Hindutva etc. are stooges at the hands of Marwari/Parsi/Jains etc. - always in collusion with the "East India Companies" - as is the history of the sub-continent! What a repeat of history....


Aug 22, 2019
United States
But this is not sedition. Only when Muslims mention "chakka jam" does it amount to sedition in the eyes of this government

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 1, Members: 0, Guests: 1)