What’s the issue?
In the summer of 2020, three new farming laws were introduced by the Modi government in India. They loosened market restrictions on the sale of farm produce, meaning that farmers and food producers could sell to private buyers instead of through government-controlled markets where minimum prices were guaranteed. The passing of these laws mark a growing trend of consolidation and industrialisation in the Indian food and farming systems, one which leaves small-scale farmers at the mercy of large corporations.
A wave of strike action and protest took place at the beginning of 2021, with hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers, land workers and peasants taking to the streets of Delhi for several months to demand that the laws be repealed and that a ‘Minimum Support Price’ bill be passed to ensure that corporate giants don’t control future prices.
The UK government have been complicit in promoting market reforms and providing expertise to the Indian government to allow private investment and increase corporate control of the agriculture sector in India.
What are we doing?
In January 2021 we wrote to Uk Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab asking him to take action, and called on our members and supporters to write to their MPs and demand that they also act to support India’s farmers in two ways:
Revise the UK approach to aid to India, including the Conceptual Framework on Agriculture and the UK-India Infrastructure Technical Co-Operation Facility (ITCF) which promotes contract farming (one of the issues the farmers are protesting about) and finances consultants to ‘alleviate bottlenecks to private sector investment in agriculture’ in India.
Stop exports of pesticides banned in the UK to India and other countries, including Paraquat, which is responsible for thousands of farmer deaths in India – a situation so severe that doctors in India have resorted to hunger strikes demanding a ban on its usage.
We also asked our members to create banners and signs and raise them in solidarity with the farmers protesting in India.