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India’s farmers call off year-long protest after gov’t assurances | Agriculture News

Protest withdrawn after government agrees to pending demands, including promises to consider guaranteed prices for all produce.

India’s farmers will call off a long-running protest after the government concedes to a clutch of pending demands, including assurances to consider guaranteed prices for all produce, not just rice and wheat, union leaders have said.

Tens of thousands of farmers had staged long-running protests to persuade Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal three new laws passed in September last year. The announcement of the ending of the protest was made on Thursday.

The government said the laws were aimed at modernising India’s vast agriculture sector and would increase the income of the farmers by giving them more choices to sell their produce.

But the farmers said the laws would give private corporations control over the sector and deprive them of a minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government for their produce.

Last month, Modi made a surprise U-turn, apologising to the nation in a TV address and saying he would roll back the controversial legislations. His announcement came ahead of crucial regional elections in ”grain bowl” states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

“We have decided to call off the protest as most of our demands have been accepted by the government,” the farmers’ union leader Jagmohan Singh confirmed to Al Jazeera.

“After the government repealed the farm laws, they have now accepted our demand of dropping charges against the farmers in various states. Also, we have been assured that a committee would be formed on MSP,” he added.

Visuals shared by journalists and news organisations on social media showed many farmers removing tents from the main protest site at Singhu outside capital New Delhi.

A victory march will be held on Saturday to celebrate the campaign’s victory against the laws, Balbir Singh Rajewal said at one of the protest camps on the outskirts of New Delhi, The Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Despite Modi’s climbdown, farmers had continued to press the government to meet other demands such as MSPs for all produce. At present, the government mainly buys rice and wheat at MSPs, which benefits barely 6 percent of India’s millions of farmers.

On Tuesday, the farmers received a proposal from the government addressing some of their demands, including MSP for all produce, not just rice and wheat, farm union leaders said.

Other farmers’ demands include retracting legal cases filed against the protesting growers and compensation for the families of those who died during the protests.

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