Indian Farmers Campaign against the three repressive farming laws brought in under the cover of Covid-19 crisis for the benefit of Corporates.
Indian has around 645,000 villages with 42% of the population working with in the agricultural sector. Rather than building upon this strength towards food sustainability and safety the successive governments have through quick fixes and for political gain purposes created such a mess that in 2019 the data shows that 42,480 farmers and daily workers committed suicide for debt reasons.
The London School of Economics has done various studies into the agricultural issues in Africa and other developing nations. Amongst these an interesting study was highlighted by the Hindustan Times on 15th Jan 2020.
The study (THE RISE OF AGRIBUSINESSES AND ITS DISTRIBUTIONAL CONSEQUENCES By SWATI DHINGRAA SILVANA TENREYROA, B ALONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS, CEP, CEPR; BCFM) says “These market reforms and agribusiness policies are expected to stimulate growth in smallholder agriculture through better technology and market development. They therefore provide the potential to lift millions of low-income households out of poverty. However, after decades of such policies being tried, there is growing concern that much of agriculture, especially in the poorest parts of the world, has shown few signs of the radical transformation that was hoped for. Market reforms could have contributed to creating a dual structure in farming activities, with few large agribusinesses that have the scale and capital to access world markets and many small farmers who continue to face low yields, low prices for their produce or high barriers to market access.”
The study also cites the reforms in Kenya which simply did not deliver the promised results for the small farmers.
“It had its expected impact on the rise of agri-businesses. Their overall market share as buyers of farm produce almost doubled, reaching 38% by 2010. But within the crops that were “liberalised”, the story was not as straightforward. Soon after the policy was implemented, small farmers became more likely to sell these crops to agri-businesses, especially in areas that were more reliant on these crops due to agro-ecological conditions. But, five years on, many had stopped selling to these businesses.
Farm incomes from these crops had fallen. Farmers who were reliant on agri-businesses saw their incomes fall by an average 6%. They sold household assets to maintain their day-to-day consumption.”
It is a wonder that Modi’s BJP government still continues to push these farming laws as being a good thing for the farmers in the face of the evidence and rejection from the farming communities. As the government is loosing ground it is resorting to attacking the farmers very character and even their intelligence to understand. They tried to turn the public opinion against the farmers by describing them as Communists, Khalistanis and even as agents of neighbouring countries of China and Pakistan. Having failed in these endeavours they have now resolved to harassing and intimidating the Panjabi farmers supporters with unannounced income tax visits and National Intelligence Agency interviews at short notice involving expensive and whole day travels. They even tried to use the Supreme Court to sabotage the protests or to tie the Trade Unions into so called committees.
The reality is that the government has lost the argument, the good will of the agricultural community and earned scepticism of the very many politically aware Indians from all walks of life. The best thing the government can now do is to agree to the Farmers demands for the sake of the country and set-in motion an interdisciplinary team of experts to develop a model for sustainable agriculture in India which delivers food safety and long due prosperity for the sector.
Cllr Gurdial Singh Atwal
Chair of Indian Sub-continent Affairs
S. Raj Manvinder Singh Kang