The agriculture minister says he is open to suspending laws as farmers continue their protest on the outskirts of New Delhi.
The Indian government has proposed to suspend implementation of three new farm laws that have sparked the biggest farmer protests in years.
The cornerstone of the legislation, introduced in September, allows private buyers to deal directly with farmers.
Angry farmers, who say this will render India’s traditional wholesale markets useless and leave them at the mercy of big retailers and food processors, camp on main roads outside the capital New Delhi for over two months.
Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Wednesday that the government was prepared to suspend laws for up to 18 months, during which time government officials and farmers should work to “bring solutions” to the industry.
The government has said it is ready to suspend implementation of the new laws if the leaders of the farmers’ unions agree to form a committee to discuss issues and objections to the new legislation.
Multiple rounds of talks between farmers’ unions and the government have so far failed to break the deadlock – Prime Minister Narendra Modi being one of his biggest challenges since being re-elected in 2019.
The next round of talks is scheduled for Friday, and farm chief Dharmendra Malik said the unions would notify the government if they accepted the offer and called off the protests.
Farmers have also refused to appear before a Supreme Court appointed committee appointed last week to hear their grievances.
The protesting farmers are planning a tractor rally across New Delhi on January 26, India’s Republic Day, which the Supreme Court on Wednesday denied in a government petition to ban.