Indian farmers cancel protest one year after government assurances | Agricultural news

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Protest withdrawn after the government accepted pending demands, including pledges to consider guaranteed prices for all products.

Indian farmers will call off a long-standing protest after the government concedes to a handful of pending demands, including assurances to consider guaranteed prices for all commodities, not just rice and wheat, union leaders said. .

“We have decided to cancel the protest because most of our demands were accepted by the government,” Jagmohan Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union, who attended a meeting of trade unions, told Al Jazeera. farmers Thursday.

Tens of thousands of farmers staged a year-long protest to persuade Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal three new laws passed in September last year.

The government said the laws were aimed at modernizing India’s vast agricultural sector and would increase farmers’ incomes by giving them more choices in selling their produce.

But farmers said the laws would give private companies control of the sector and deprive them of a government-guaranteed Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce.

Last month, Modi made a surprise U-turn, apologizing to the nation in a televised address and saying he would overturn controversial laws. His announcement came ahead of crucial regional elections in the “grain bowl” states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

“Great victory for farmers”

Images shared by journalists and news outlets on social media showed many farmers removing tents from the main protest site in Singhu on Thursday, outside the capital New Delhi.

A victory march will be held on Saturday to celebrate the victory of the campaign against the laws, said Balbir Singh Rajewal at one of the protest camps on the outskirts of New Delhi, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. .

“This is a huge victory for the farmers,” Singh told Al Jazeera. “It’s a big loss for Narendra Modi.”

Balbir Singh Rajewal, a senior official of a coalition of farmers’ unions, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (United Farmers Front) said he “received a letter from the government which acceded to our demands”.

But farmer leaders would meet on Jan.15 to review the progress of government assurances, Rajewal said at a press conference.

“We will resume our protests if the government moves away from assurances,” said Gurnam Singh Charuni, another farmers’ leader.

From Saturday, farmers will start to leave the protest site on the outskirts of India’s capital New Delhi, they said.

The government will set up a panel of producers and government officials to find ways to ensure PSM for all agricultural products, according to the letter. At present, the government mainly buys rice and wheat at these guaranteed prices, benefiting barely 6 percent of Indian farmers.

Agriculture, which accounts for nearly 15 percent of India’s $ 2.7 trillion economy, is the livelihood of more than half of its population of 1.3 billion.

Jagmohan Singh said the government accepted their demands due to a campaign by farmers against Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He warned that if the government reneged on its accepted demands, farmers would return to the streets.

“If they do an about-face on the MSP or if the case is not withdrawn against the farmers by all the agencies, we will come back with our protest program,” Singh told Al Jazeera.

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