Politics

Protests Rage, Talks Fail, But Narendra Modi Insists New Laws Will 'Benefit Farmers'

Hundreds of farmers from states like Punjab and Haryana have blocked some of the highways leading to Delhi borders for more than two weeks now.

New Delhi: As farmers vowed to expand their protests over new farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday again stated that his government was committed to farmers’ welfare and that the legislations were aimed at giving them alternate markets to boost income.

Without directly referring to the farmers’ agitation, which entered its 17th day on Saturday, Modi said agriculture reforms were part of the government efforts aimed at removing roadblocks, and the new laws will also bring in technology and investment in the sector.

“Reforms will help draw investment in the agriculture sector and benefit farmers,” he said at the annual meeting of industry body FICCI here. “The aim of all government reforms is to make farmers prosperous.”

The new legislations, which were approved in the previous Parliament session, give farmers an additional option outside of the designated mandis to buy or sell their crops, he said. “The idea is to help increase farmer incomes,” Modi said.

Also read: India’s Farm Protests: A Basic Guide to the Issues at Stake

Hundreds of farmers from states like Punjab and Haryana have blocked some of the highways leading to Delhi borders for more than two weeks now against the new farm laws which they fear will prompt the government to stop making direct crop purchases at minimum state-set prices, called minimum support price (MSP). They also believe that the government is pandering to large corporate groups, including those run by the Ambanis and Adanis, who are looking for a foothold in the agricultural sector.

The protesting farmers have vowed to expand their protests across the country until the government scraps the new farm laws. The government has so far refused to heed to their demand.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the limited participation of India Inc in the agriculture sector, the prime minister asked industries to show their interest and increase investment in the sector. Unfortunately the India Inc has not made adequate investments in agriculture and private players did not explore the sector to its full potential, rather they worked in a limited fashion, he said.

He said rural India is growing faster than urban centres in certain aspects of the economy and offers a prime market for investors.

(With PTI inputs)