100 Farmer Unions Part Of Massive Protest Against New Bills

100 Farmer Unions Part Of Massive Protest Against New Bills


Farmers raise slogans against the government during a nationwide farmers' strike in Amritsar. (AFP)

Farmers took to the streets and blocked roads and railways across India, intensifying protests over major new farming legislation they say will benefit only big corporates.

The plight of farmers is a major political issue, with some 70 per cent of rural households depending primarily on agriculture, and thousands of farmers killing themselves in recent years because of debt and drought in the country.

The legislation passed by parliament in chaotic scenes on Sunday means that farmers no longer have to sell to state-controlled markets at fixed prices, freeing them to supply to any buyer they choose and getting rid of middlemen.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the legislation would achieve a "complete transformation of the agriculture sector" and empower "tens of millions of farmers", while encouraging much-needed investment and modernisation.

But critics say the changes will leave farmers at the mercy of large corporations by taking away their bargaining power.

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