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Why are farmers standing firm? – news from india

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Farm unions have stuck to their demand to remove three market-friendly farm laws that they say will damage their livelihoods, damaging the Union government’s offer to make changes to the laws to end weeks of agitation by farmers.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture sent an extensive set of proposals to the agricultural unions protesting on the Delhi borders to address their concerns. Farmers fear losing out to large corporations if private traders make a free profit in deregulated markets. The government says the changes will give farmers greater market access and stimulate investment.

The agricultural sector employs half of all Indians, but adds only 16% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which means that too many people are engaged in agriculture than is required to generate the same levels of income. farm income. The new laws allow companies to freely trade agricultural products abroad, allow private traders to store large quantities of commodities for future sales, and establish new rules for contract farming.

Concessions offered by the government provide greater oversight of private markets. Farmers, however, say they want nothing less than a total repeal of the laws. Farmers have come to trust regulated markets from decades ago despite studies showing that these markets are run by merchant cartels that manipulate prices and lend farmers money, limiting their bargaining power.

However, these markets also offer farmers guaranteed minimum prices for commodities, giving them a sense of security. The new reforms allow corporations to operate with minimal regulations.

“The main concerns [are] on eliminating regulation on traders and companies and thus eliminating all protections for farmers that the regulatory system offers, ”said Kirankumar Vissa of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, an agricultural activist.

The government said Wednesday its concessions will protect farmers’ bargaining power. Farmers say the very purpose of the laws is wrong. “The fact of the matter is that the government’s laws are focused on large corporations that go against the interests of farmers and consumers. Why can’t markets be farmer-run? “said Kavitha Kuruganti of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, an agricultural activist who participated in the recent talks with the government.

Economists attribute India’s impressive economic growth over the years to reforms in industry, foreign exchange markets, and manufacturing. The outbreak of reforms that began in 1991 completely bypassed the agricultural sector.

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