Angry India farmers march to parliament to highlight farm crisis

Tens of thousands of farmers and agricultural workers marched towards the Indian parliament on Friday demanding debt waivers and higher crop prices, putting pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of 2019 general elections.

“We are demanding legal rights for farmers – especially for tenant farmers and women farmers with no rights,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, who represents the advocacy group Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture.

“Our farmers need secure rights over land and better prices for their crop to be free from debt,” she told the Reuters news agency.

Organisers said some 80,000 farmers and farm labourers were participating in the two-day agitation, termed as “Dilli Challo”, that will culminate with a petition to the Indian president.

“We have three main demands. Debt waiver, maximum price for the produce and a special parliament session to discuss the crisis,” Ajit Nawale from Maharashtra Kisan Sabha, one of the 200 farmer groups organising the Delhi March, told the AFP news agency.

More than 300,000 farmers have killed themselves in the last 20 years, mainly because of poor irrigation, failed crops and being unable to pay back loans.

Each year millions of small farmers suffer due to scant irrigation facilities that reduces the yield and leads farmers into a deadly cycle of debt and suicides.