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Members of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) and activists of left parties and trade unions participate in a nationwide protest in Hyderabad, India, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Hundreds of Indian farmers took to the streets on Friday protesting new laws that the government says will boost growth in the farming sector through private investments, but they fear these are likely to be exploited by private players for buying their crops cheaply. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

in the food subsidy. All this is quite apart from the fact that what appears at first sight as an easy way to raise peasants’ income, through a shift towards more lucrative cash crops, can make them pauperized when the prices of these crops crash in the world market, as they inevitably would since they are subject to wide fluctuations.

The government’s minimum support price for farmers and the public procurement system are indispensable for India’s food security, public distribution system, farmer livelihood and agricultural growth. But the ‘New Farm Laws’ will facilitate a policy, which is based on the laissez-faire i.e. neoliberal approach that will undermine farmers’ interests. India achieved self-sufficiency in food and agricultural growth due to the ‘Green Revolution’, which was reinforced by institutional and policy support. Moreover, the primary components of the wide-ranging policy support of farmers’ welfare since the mid-1960s have been the MSP and the public procurement system (PPS). However, the ‘new farm laws’ will introduce an environment where in the MSP and PPS are likely to become redundant.

The government’s minimum support price for farmers and the public procurement system are indispensable for India’s food security, public distribution system, farmer livelihood and agricultural growth.

The developed capitalist countries led by the US and EU have been demanding access to agricultural production and markets in developing countries including India. The multinational corporations are interested in Indian market. The global agri-business is the second most profitable venture after pharmaceuticals. Through the WTO’s ‘agriculture agreement’ of which India is a signatory and they have been opposing India’s system of minimum support prices, and public stockholding of foodgrains essential for the public distribution system. The ‘Agreement on Agriculture’ regulates domestic subsidies in agriculture. Under this, subsidies such as the MSP would have to be capped at 10 % of the total value of the product. The idea behind the agreement was to get farmers to cultivate something other than wheat, sugarcane and rice. However, the ‘agreement on agriculture’ does not allow for any kind of subsidies like on water, power, MSP etc. The government also does not want to makes a law on MSP. Recently, the IMF’s chief economist, Ms Gita Gopinath supported India’s new ‘farm laws’ on the name of market liberalisation and she claimed that India’s new agriculture laws have a potential to raise farms income (The Economic Times).

In fact, a major feature of the 1991 neoliberal economic reforms was to increase private corporate involvement in the Indian economy including the agriculture. In the initial phases of liberalisation, the multinational companies were allowed to expand their control over the production and supply of farm inputs, such as seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. The new ‘Farm Laws’ is intending to expand the hold of big companies into the sphere of agricultural marketing. These three Farm Laws will weaken the local traders, shut down the FCI and end the government procurement. These would imply that the entire agricultural surplus will be available for the multinational companies to control and sell. Thus, corporate firms would gradually increase their control of the entire value chain and ultimately dominate it. The central government has undermined powers of the states to enact laws related to agriculture and to make executive interventions in the interests of people. The laws have been created solely with the objective worldfinancialreview.com 57

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