Ont. community supports farmers in India

Ont. community supports farmers in India
Oct 23, 2020

Brampton residents have held rallies in solidarity with Indian farmers over agriculture bills passed in that country

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Residents and lawmakers in a Peel Region community are showing support for farmers in India.

On Oct. 14, Brampton councillors unanimously passed a motion “standing in solidarity with the people of Brampton and their families who are affected by three (agricultural) bills that were passed in India,” Councillor Gurpreet Singh Dhillon told Farms.com. “It’s nothing political against the Indian government, it’s just us saying we understand (farmers in India) are going through something, so we’re going to stand with you.”

 Councillor Gurpreet Singh Dhillon

Councillor Dhillon made the motion and Regional Councillor Martin Mderiros seconded it.

Farmers in India are protesting three bills the country’s federal government passed in September. This legislation will hurt the industry, producers say.

But Indian lawmakers say the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will work in farmers’ favour.

“The country has freed its farmers from many restrictions. Now, the farmer can sell his produce to anyone, anywhere,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, DW.com reported.

The bills would allow farmers to sell goods to directly to private buyers instead of solely participating in government-regulated transactions. The legislation also provide frameworks for farmers to enter into written agreements with buyers.

But local farmers worry representatives of private business won’t negotiate in good faith.

“The private sector will give us a good price for one or two years, but what about after that?” Karam Singh, an Indian farmer, told Al Jazeera. “The government should guarantee the private sector will give us more than the government price.”

In Brampton, many residents of its Indian community have family members who farm or own land in the Asian country.

“My family still owns 10 acres through my father and many constituents do have land or family there as well,” Councillor Dhillon said. “A lot of us have one foot here and one foot (in India), so we know what the farmers there are going through.

“Farming is such a noble profession and farmers are the reason we can eat. Their livelihoods should be protected.”

Brampton residents also showed support for farmers in India.

The Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario held the Solidarity Rally for Punjabi Farmers on Oct. 11 to “protest the anti-farmer ordinances passed by (the) Indian Modi government to suppress the already financially weak farmer,” Ravinder Kaur said on Facebook.

Indian communities from other parts of the world are supporting the country’s farmers too.

Members of California’s Indian community protested outside of the Indian consulate in San Francisco on Oct. 4.

Other demonstrations have occurred in France, England and the United Kingdom.

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