Friday, June 2, 2023

Protesting Indian Farmers, Government Hold Ninth Round of Talks | Agriculture News

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Farmers threatened to escalate their unrest as they marched to New Delhi on January 26, when India celebrates its Republic Day.

Leaders of Indian farmers’ unions are holding another round of talks with the government in New Delhi in their latest attempt to settle a dispute over a controversial set of new farm laws.

Friday is the ninth round of talks over the long-running dispute without reaching final conclusions, as tens of thousands of farmers continue to camp on the outskirts of the capital to protest the repeal of the three laws passed in September .

Farmers say the legislation will lead to the cartelization and commercialization of agriculture, make farmers vulnerable to corporate greed and devastate their income.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government refused to withdraw the three disputed laws and said they would allow farmers to market their products and boost production through private investment.

The government would speak to farmers with an open mind, said Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

Previous rounds of talks have so far failed to appease farmers, who have occupied major highways around New Delhi in protest for nearly two months. Farmers say they won’t leave until the government repeals what they call “black laws.”

The protesting farmers threatened to escalate their unrest even further by marching through the heart of the capital on January 26, when India celebrates its Republic Day.

Farmers take part in a tractor rally on January 7, 2020, to protest against agricultural laws, on a highway on the outskirts of New Delhi, India [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

On December 30, the government and farmers reached consensus on two issues – that the government would continue to subsidize electricity for irrigation of farms and that farmers would not be punished for burning crop residues, a cause of air pollution.

The Indian Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended implementation of the new agricultural laws indefinitely and ordered the creation of an independent four-member panel of experts to negotiate with farmers.

Raising doubts about the composition of the panel, leaders of the farmers’ unions said they would not appear before the committee. Panel members were in favor of all three laws, the protesting farmers said.

Bhupinder Singh Mann, one of the four members, has stepped down from the Supreme Court-appointed panel.

“As a farmer myself and as a union leader, in view of the feelings and apprehensions that prevail among the agricultural unions and the public in general, I am willing to sacrifice any position that is offered or given to me. so as not to compromise the interests of Punjab and the country’s farmers, ”Mann said in a statement, according to Indian media.

Mann is from the northern state of Punjab, one of India’s breadbasket states, and politically influential farmers in Punjab have been at the forefront of the agitation against the three laws.

The main opposition party in Congress said it will also hold protests in state capitals on Friday to support the farmer agitation.


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