İrem UZUN -TDO- India’s government invited protesting farmers for talks on Tuesday, seeking to allay concerns about new laws growers fear could pave the way for the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices, leaving them at the mercy of private buyers. In a letter addressed to 32 farmers’ unions, Sanjay Agrawal, the most senior civil servant at the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, urged farmers to come forward for talks with government ministers and officials.
More than 300,000 farmers marched from the states of Punjab and Haryana at the weekend to reach the Indian capital for what they described as a “decisive battle” with the central government. The farmers are protesting against a series of agricultural laws that see the deregulation of crop pricing which farmers say will leave them at the mercy of big corporations. Farming is one of the biggest employers in India, with more than 40% of the population working in agriculture.
Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Modi said farmers were being misled by opposition parties and that his government would address their concerns. “The new agricultural laws have been brought in for benefit of the farmers. Reforms are being done in the interest of farmers, which will give them more options,” Modi said. His government argues the legislation brings about necessary reform that will allow farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment.