Image credit: Photo by Rupinder Singh / Unsplash

Brief: Indian government shelves ag reforms after months of mass protests

November 19, 2021

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has agreed to repeal a set of highly controversial farm laws introduced last year in an effort to reform the country’s agricultural sector.
  • Farmers opposed to the laws have held sustained protests since they were passed in September 2020. Some protests have descended into violence, resulting in around 600 deaths.
  • “The three laws were for the benefit of farmers, but we could not convince a section of them despite our best efforts,” Modi said. “I urge the protesting farmers to return home to their families, and let’s start afresh.”
  • Farmer activist Ramandeep Singh Mann said he was “ecstatic” about the government’s climbdown, but indicated that protests will continue at least until the farm laws are formally scrapped in the next parliamentary session.

Why it matters:

The three farm laws sought to end anti-stockpiling restrictions in order to encourage more competition in the middle of the supply chain; legalize contract farming to incentivize more corporate and institutional investment; and remove state monopolies on buying and selling agri-commodities, potentially opening the market to tech startups enabling online trading.

Farmers, agritech to enjoy “big push” from India’s latest rural reforms, says agriculture secretary – read the AFN exclusive here

Modi’s government had argued that reforms would modernize Indian agriculture by opening the sector to greater investment and reducing the role of the state. However, the laws were met with angry opposition from many farmers, who felt that deregulation would leave them with even less leverage in an already tough market.

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