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Farmer groups leave government meeting on new agricultural reforms

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A delegation of protesting peasant leaders from Punjab, invited for talks by Union Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal, left the meeting, demanding the presence of Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, according to a platform. umbrella shape representing farmers.

The Center had invited at least 31 farmers’ organizations and their leaders from the Punjab to talks in New Delhi, the second attempt in a month to reach farmers who were protesting a set of laws enacted to liberalize agricultural markets. “The meeting was an effort to try to create a false impression that the central government is engaging with farmers, when in fact it is doing everything it can to deploy and enforce black anti-farm laws,” the report said. Coordination of the whole of India Kisan Sangharsh Says the committee.

Read also | The government is still open to discussing new farm laws with farmers: Prakash Javadekar

The farmers’ delegation requested the presence of Agriculture Minister Tomar and tore up copies of the laws. “First, the government must be prepared to review and, if necessary, repeal the three laws. Second, the government should be prepared to consider legislating the minimum support price as a legal right and managing the cost of inputs … ”said AIKSCC. AIKSCC organizer Avik Saha said the meeting with the agriculture secretary “did not meet any of these criteria” as the bureaucrat was unable to repeal, amend or enact new laws. “Rather, his job is to implement the laws passed by the government so that he is the wrong person for the right discussion,” Saha said. Farmers have blocked roads and railroads since September 24 to protest legislation they believe could pave the way for the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices (minimum support prices or MSP), leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by private entities.

Law-defending Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the new measures “historic”. He said that if the laws give farmers the option to sell their produce to private buyers, the government will continue to buy commodities in MSPs. The laws aim to end local monopolies in regulated markets known as agricultural marketing committees by opening up to private competition. These assurances have hardly satisfied farmers in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. Large groups of farmers, who usually produce substantial surpluses, fear that deregulation will make them vulnerable to powerful agribusiness industries.

Read also | Agricultural reforms will help turn farmers into entrepreneurs: Modi

The reforms are a crucial test for the Modi government’s ability to push through structural policy changes in the antiquated agricultural sector, which supports nearly half of all Indians, while especially appeasing large farmers in food bolus states. .

A statement from the Agriculture Ministry, however, said the leaders of the farmers attended the discussions for nearly two hours before submitting a memorandum. Asked about the Agriculture Minister’s absence from the meeting, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said: “If anyone wants more (discussion), we are always open (to) meet everyone. But (Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh) Tomarji has a commitment today, so he’s gone. When he is free, he will meet everyone. There is no problem there. ”

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