In recent days highways across the world and especially in India have faced a threat from an unlikely group. Thousands of Indian farmers and supporters of Indian farmers have taken to the highways worldwide to protest the recent change to Indian law change that would impact millions of farmers in a big way. The recent change to Indian farming law changes the pricing system of farmed goods from guaranteed prices to a freer market like pricing system. The change to the law could create a monumental change in who runs one of the largest farming economies in the world. The impact on the Indian farming sector has the potential to affect markets across the world.
The current Indian farming industry employs over half of people in India and has a huge number of smaller farmers that feed their families with their farming income. India’s small farmer agricultural industry is significantly different than other countries like the USA that have farming mega corporations. Many farmers say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new law directly threatens the established farming system and could put millions of people out of work. Farmers are feeling threatened mainly because of the new law’s change to the way the price of goods are set.
The main difference that the contested law specifically proposes is the deviation away from government-controlled produce prices. The current system has the farmers selling their goods at a government auction that has an agreed minimum price and a price cap for essential items. Modi’s new proposed system would change the farming industry by allowing direct selling to private businesses and price setting by the farmers themselves. This change could benefit Indian farmers in the short term, but in the long term a devastating fate could affect the large amount of smaller Indian farmers.
One reason the new law is contested is that the lack of regulations could have major consequences in future market conditions. If low prices are pushed on farmers by private corporations with resources, the small farming system could collapse and be eaten up by mega corporations. Many farmers need the guaranteed prices and regulations to make sure debauchery does not prevent them from feeding their families. A market with no small farmers and less regulations means that the large corporations that take over could freely price gouge on essential items to maximize profits. A corporate-run future might mean that the spices we all use could shoot up in price by 300% to the benefit of Indian agricultural corporations.
This situation is important globally because India is a key player in the global agricultural market. India supplies the world with spices, cotton, rice, fruits, vegetable and more. A disruption in the Indian markets could have ripple effects to countries across the world that lack sufficient food production to make up for more expensive Indian imports. The food industry and other industries of the world rely on India for something at the base of their supply chain, so companies across the world should care about this issue. The last thing the world needs at the moment is a spike in the prices of essential foods.
If this law passes in its current form, many supply chains across the world could face a reckoning soon.
Sources: https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/11/world/farmer-protests-india-protests-hnk-trnd/index.html, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/26/india-farmers-agree-to-meet-govt-over-new-laws-they-want-revoked