In passing the three ‘farm bills’ in the current session of Parliament, the Modi government is seeking to effect a massive change in how Indian agriculture is organised, by giving corporate players a much larger role.

Till now, most of the farmer protests around these policy changes have been centered around fears that this new marketing regime would lead to the end of the minimum support price, or MSP: A welfare scheme in which the Union government pays a predetermined price delinked from market rates for specific crops, thereby subsidising them.

This, despite the fact that none of the bills directly affect the MSP regime. In fact, the Modi government has repeatedly claimed that “MSP will remain”.

To add to this, the vast majority of protests have taken place in the states of Punjab and Haryana.

What explains this pattern?

Green Revolution legacy

Siraj Hussain, former Union Agriculture Secretary, explains that these fears could be traced to the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill which allows farmers to sell their produce outside the state-run Agricultural Produce Market Committee markets or mandis. “Since MSP procurement in Punjab, Haryana and some other states takes place at purchase centres located in these APMCs, farmers fear that weakening them could be a precursor...

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