Satnam Singh, a farmer from Punjab in northern India, is worried about his livelihood. New legislation is set to liberalize the sale of agricultural produce. Hundreds of thousands of farmers head for the capital in protest.

Until recently, grain in India was traded in state-run wholesale markets with guaranteed minimum prices. Yet following new legislation farmers can sell their produce directly to private buyers, bypassing the middlemen. But the farmers see themselves at a disadvantage in negotiations with the buyers, and fear prices will collapse. Their worries are not unfounded. When similar legislation was passed around 15 years ago in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, wholesale prices for rice, for example, plummeted. Satnam Singh is determined to help keep that from happening again. So, he takes leave of his family, climbs aboard his tractor, and sets out for New Delhi to join the massive farmers’ protest there. He expects to be away for a month. A report by Nimisha Jaiswal and Sharique Ahmad.


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