India farmers went on a daylong hunger strike Tuesday to protest the passing of new agricultural laws, which they claim is anti-farmer and pro-corporation.
The hunger strike is the 19th day of demonstrations in India, with farmers demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government repeal the laws.
The recently passed laws will effectively deregulate pricing within the country's massive agriculture sector. Under the new legislation, farmers will be able to sell their products to private buyers without having to rely on government-mandated minimums. Farmers argue that assured minimum prices are their safety nets and without it, they will now be at the mercy of private corporations.
Modi claims that the new laws, which were passed in September, are meant to boost the country's agriculture center by giving farmers more freedom in pricing their products. He said that it was meant to "liberate" them from the tyranny of middlemen.
"Today, we have given a call for protests in all the districts all over India. Main leaders belonging to different farmer organizations will observe fast as a means of protest against the new agriculture laws," one of the participants of the hunger strike told reporters.
Thousands of farmers from across the nation have participated in the demonstrations in the capital city of New Delhi. Farmers have started to camp outside district officers and major highways, blocking traffic leading into the city.
Delhi state's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party joined the farmers by fasting with them. Kejriwal said in a statement that Modi's party, called the Bharatiya Janata Party, should "shun arrogance" and agree to the farmer's demand.
The Indian government had previously invited leaders of the farmers' union to negotiate. Previous rounds of talks between the two parties have all failed. Ministers and farmers' representatives are reportedly now engaged in new talks. The exact details and the topics of conversation have yet to be made public.
Farm products sold locally and abroad account for about 15% of India's $2.9-trillion economy. The industry employs more than half of the country's massive 1.4-billion people.