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India offers protesting farmers subsidies to diversify crop production



Tear gas and barricades were used to deter the farmers

The Indian government has offered guaranteed subsidies for pulses, corn, and cotton in a bid to break a deadlock with protesting farmers, Trade Minister Piyush Goyal said after week-long clashes between security forces and protesters.

Tear gas and barricades were used to deter the peasants, who form an influential voting bloc, months ahead of a general election due by May, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks a record third term.

Sunday’s comments followed marathon talks with peasants’ unions after the protesters, who are demanding higher prices backed by law for nearly two dozen crops, were halted at a distance of about 200 km (125 miles) from New Delhi.

Goyal said the government had proposed five-year contracts for minimum subsidies to farmers who diversify their crops to grow pigeon peas, black matpe, red lentils, and corn, paid by co-operative groups it promotes.

“These organisations will buy the produce, and there will be no limit on quantity,” Goyal told reporters in the northern city of Chandigarh, adding that a similar price guarantee would also be offered to farmers who diversify and produce cotton.


The farmers‘ unions said they would decide on the proposal within a day or two after reaching consensus among themselves.

Switching more crops to pulses from those such as rice and wheat that require more water will not only benefit a depleting water table but also help cut back on imports of pulses.

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