SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Protesters throughout Canada continue to stand in solidarity with farmers in India.
For the past few weeks, people protested new legislation announced by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which will allow farmers to sell their grain to private corporations, as well as the government.
Previously farmers could only sell to the government at a minimum guaranteed wholesale price.
Farmers say this has the potential to destroy their livelihoods as relying on the corporations could result in financial exploitation.
Protests have been held worldwide as similar peaceful protests take place in Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, and Winnipeg.
On Thursday, India’s government offered to meet again with leaders of tens of thousands of farmers who have been blockading key highways in the country for two weeks. However, the government has rejected the demands for the repeal of three laws on agricultural reform.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters that the government is willing to amend the new laws to address the concerns of farmers, and they “should give up their insistence on scrapping” them.
There was no immediate response from the protest leaders.
Five rounds of talks since November have failed to produce a breakthrough.
With nearly 60 per cent of the Indian population depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, the growing farmer rebellion has rattled Modi’s administration and its allies.
Heavy contingents of police in riot gear patrolled the areas where the farmers have been camping in New Delhi’s outskirts.
Modi’s government insists the reforms will benefit farmers by allowing farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment.
Farmers have been protesting the laws for nearly two months in the Punjab and Haryana states. The situation escalated two weeks ago when tens of thousands marched to New Delhi, where they clashed with police.
The laws adds to already existing resentment from farmers, who often complain of being ignored by the government in requests for better crop prices, additional loan waivers and irrigation systems to guarantee water during dry spells.