• Staff Writers

India's Modi to halt contentious farm laws

Controversial farm laws that have sparked more than 12 months of sometimes violent protest in India are to be withdrawn, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to repeal three controversial farm laws against which farmers have protested for more than a year, a significant climbdown by the government.

Modi said in an address to the nation:

"Today I have come to tell you, the whole country, that we have decided to withdraw all three agricultural laws."
"In the parliament session starting later this month, we will complete the constitutional process to repeal these three agricultural laws."

The legislation the farmers object to, introduced in September last year, deregulates the sector, allowing farmers to sell produce to buyers beyond government-regulated wholesale markets, where growers are assured of a minimum price.

Small farmers say the changes make them vulnerable to competition from big business, and that they could eventually lose price support for staples such as wheat and rice.

The government says reform of the sector, which accounts for about 15 per cent of the $A3.7 trillion economy, means new opportunities and better prices for farmers.

The laws were targeted at empowering small farmers, but the government failed to convince those who have been opposing the new legislation, Modi said.