Posted by Sam Fenny - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 21 February 2024

Farmers’ Protest in India Reignites: A Struggle for the Future of Food and Agriculture

In 2021, after a year-long protest, India’s farmers brought about the repeal of three farm laws that were intended to ‘liberalise’ the agriculture sector.

Now, in 2024, farmers are again protesting. The underlying issues and the facilitation of the neoliberal corporatisation of farming that sparked the previous protest remain and have not been resolved.

The World Bank, the World Trade Organization, global agribusiness and financial capital are working to corporatise India’s agriculture sector. This plan goes back to the early 1990s and India’s foreign exchange crisis, which was used (and manipulated) to set this plan in motion. This ‘structural adjustment’ policy and process involves displacing the current food production system with contract farming and an industrial model of agriculture and food retail that serves the above interests.

The aim is to reduce the role of the public sector in agriculture to a facilitator of private capital, which requires industrial commodity-crop farming. The beneficiaries will include Cargill, Archer Daniels Midlands, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge and India’s retail and agribusiness giants as well as the global agritech, seed and agrochemical corporations and the big tech companies with their ‘data-driven agriculture’.

The plan is to displace the peasantry, create a land market and amalgamate landholdings to form larger farms that are more suited to international land investors and industrial farming. As a result, there has been an ongoing strategy to make farming non-viable for many of India’s smallholder farmers and drive hundreds of millions out of farming and into urban centres that have already sprawled to form peri-urban areas, which often tend to contain the most agriculturally fertile land. The loss of such land should be a concern in itself.

And what will those hundreds of millions do? Driven to the cities because of deliberate impoverishment, they will serve as cheap labour or, more likely, an unemployed or underemployed reserve army of labour for global capital — labour which is being replaced with automation. They will be in search of jobs that are increasingly hard to come by the (World Bank reports that there is more than 23% youth unemployment in India).

The impoverishment of farmers results from rising input costs, the withdrawal of government assistance, debt and debt repayments and the impacts of cheap, subsidised imports, which depress farmers’ incomes.

While corporations in India receive massive handouts and have loans written off, the lack of a secure income, exposure to volatile and manipulated international market prices and cheap imports contribute to farmers’ misery of not being able to cover the costs of production and secure a decent standard of living.

The pressure from the richer nations for the Indian government to further reduce support given to farmers and open up to imports and export-oriented ‘free market’ trade is based on nothing but hypocrisy. For instance, according to policy analyst Devinder Sharma, subsidies provided to US wheat and rice farmers are more than the market worth of these two crops. He also notes that, per day, each cow in Europe receives a subsidy worth more than an Indian farmer’s daily income.

The World Bank, the World Trade Organization, global institutional investors and transnational agribusiness giants require corporate-dictated contract farming and full-scale neoliberal marketisation for the sale and procurement of produce. They demand that India sacrifice its farmers and its own food security for the benefit of a handful of billionaires.

Farmers are merely regarded as producers of raw materials (crops) to be fleeced by suppliers of chemical and biotech inputs and the food processing and retail conglomerates. The more farmers can be squeezed, the greater the profits these corporations can extract. This entails creating farmer dependency on costly external inputs and corporate-dominated markets and supply chains. Global agrifood corporations have cleverly and cynically weaved a narrative that equates eradicating food sovereignty and creating dependency with ‘food security’.

FARMERS’ DEMANDS
In 2018, a charter was released by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (an umbrella group of around 250 farmers’ organisations). The farmers were concerned about the deepening penetration of predatory corporations and the unbearable burden of indebtedness and the widening disparities between farmers and other sectors.

They wanted the government to take measures to bring down the input costs of farming, while making purchases of farm produce below the minimum support price (MSP) both illegal and punishable.

The charter also called for a special discussion on the universalisation of the public distribution system, the withdrawal of pesticides that have been banned elsewhere and the non-approval of genetically engineered seeds without a comprehensive need and impact assessment.

Read More: Farmers’ Protest in India Reignites

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