I wanted to take the time to express my support for the Indian farmers agricultural reform protest.
Farmers in India have been protesting for months after the Indian Parliament passed three new agricultural laws in September 2020. Taken together, these reforms relax rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce.
Most Indian farmers currently sell the majority of their produce at government-controlled wholesale markets or “mandis” with guaranteed minimum prices.
Under the new reforms, farmers will have the option of selling their produce outside this “mandi system” to private players at market price.
Farmers are mainly concerned that this will lead to the end of wholesale markets and guaranteed prices: if they are unsatisfied with the market price, they cannot return to the mandi or use the mandi as a bargaining chip to negotiate price.
The Supreme Court has since suspended the implementation of those laws. On 26 January 2021, there were violent clashes between protestors and the police in Delhi.
I am very concerned about the violent nature of clashes between the farmers and police in India and I will continue to call for the Foreign Secretary to raise these concerns with his counterpart in the Indian government as a matter of urgency.