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Grande Prairie adds voices to protests for India’s farmers

A group of Grande Prairie residents is standing in solidarity with tens of thousands of farmers in India who are involved in mass protests outside New Delhi. A peaceful protest involving a little more than 30 people took to the 116 Avenue and 100 Street intersection Thursday to voice support and awareness against new laws that will drastically impact India’s agriculture industry.

Al Jazeera, a news agency covering the protests on the ground, reports thousands of protesters have been camping around New Delhi for days, refusing to yield until their demands are met.

Angad Suri, one of the organizers of the protest in Grande Prairie, explains the Indian government is moving to remove itself from the agriculture industry. Laws passed in September eliminated the minimum fixed price on produce, and transitions transactions from farmers selling to the government, to instead, selling to industrial corporations. He says farmers are worried this move will significantly devalue their product.

“What this is going to do is, the private players are going to come in and set the price [of produce] because the government has eliminated the minimum fixed price,” he says. “This allows private companies to come in, create a monopoly and dictate the prices of crops which is not beneficial for the farmers.”

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Suri adds Indian authorities have reportedly begun turning tear gas, batons, and water cannons on peaceful protesters. In Grande Prairie, though the impact is indirect, he says those with family and friends on the other side of the world are adding their voices to the outcry.

“We’re out here just to [show our] support; even here in Canada we are still supporting [farmers.] A lot of these guys here, they do come from farming backgrounds. Some of their parents or grandparents are involved in this,” he explains.

Mehtab Goraya says members of his family are directly affected by the changes.

“My family, they are still over there and they are farmers. I came from farming, we still have land over there,” he says. “We want to save our land, we don’t want to have a private company take our land from us.”

Goraya adds he believes farmers in Grande Prairie may share a sort of kinship with those on the other side of the world.

“Farmers all around [are] the same. All farmers love their land too much,” he says.

Approximately 60 per cent of India’s 1.3 billion population is in one way or another connected to farming and agriculture. The industry generates roughly 18 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

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