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‘Structural Adjustment Programme’ (SAP). This resulted in the gradual withdrawal of agricultural subsidies and which sharply increased input prices.

At present, Indian agriculture is facing a deep crisis and farmers’ distress and suicides have risen sharply since the early 1990s. Nearly thirty years have passed since the neoliberal reforms were launched in India, but until recently, there inadequate attention was paid to the agricultural sector. The economic liberalisation first ignored agriculture and treated it as if it were just another industry. The policy framework for agriculture largely continued as laid out during the ‘Green Revolution’ i.e. it provided credit for investment in new technologies, and the output was purchased by the government via the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and sold through the Public Distribution System (PDS). Until recently this system served well to buy surplus foodgrains from agriculturally developed regions like Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, and distribute the output to food deficient regions like Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere in the country.

Internal pressures on state support for agriculture occurred at a time when there were more fundamental strains emerging in this sector. With a rising population and divisions of land between members of a family, farms became smaller. At the same time, the growth of manufacturing was very slow and employment opportunities stagnated in this sector due to advancements in technology and automisation. Services provided very few job opportunities and overall unemployment soared to a very high level. Since 1991, the services sector of the economy had begun to grow at a higher rate. As a result, the share of agriculture in the GDP had more than halved from 33% in 1991 to merely 13% in 2019. While on the other hand, still more than two-thirds of India’s population relied on agriculture for their livelihoods, which had not changed in the last thirty years. The recent ‘Farm Laws’ are the instruments that will open up agriculture to the market and corporatisation. Farmers also know from experience that if the international market could offer higher prices in some years, then the farmers will benefit, however, at a time of global foodgrains surplus, prices would crash. Without MSP (Marginal Support Prices) guaranteed by the government for their products, they would be left with large unsold stocks that would bankrupt them and increase their debts.

Therefore, the ‘New Farm’ laws brought by the BJP government constitute a major change favouring the entry of agro-business capitalism and that of increased centralised control of agriculture in India. The economic distress leads the overwhelming majority of farmers to suicide. Farm income has been dwindling over the past many years, and farmer debt has been increasing since 1991 (Siddiqui, 2014; 2018b). Furthermore, the de-regulated agricultural markets often raise problems related to uncertainty, equity, collusion, quality control, asymmetric information, contract enforcement and abuse of non-economic power, among other possible sources of so-called ‘market failure’.

This study will also emphasise the importance of small-scale farms and the importance of food sovereignty in developing countries. In recent years, some big multinational companies bought land in poor countries, which could be environmentally destructive. We must learn from Central American experiences, where the US fruit companies took over lands to produce fruits and cash crops to be

Indian agriculture is facing a deep crisis and farmers’ distress and suicides have risen sharply since the early 1990s. Nearly thirty years have passed since the neoliberal reforms were launched in India, but until recently, there inadequate attention was paid to the agricultural sector.

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