In a significant display of solidarity with the Indian government, Scott Moe, the Prime Minister of Canadian province of Saskatchewan has supported the three farm laws, arguing that they will yield results in the long term.
“Change can be difficult but in the long-term it benefits everyone,” he said while participating in a webinar titled ‘Agriculture Reforms in India: A Canadian Perspective’ organized by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC).
Recalling that agriculture has played a central role in Saskatchewan and this is similar to India, Moe said, “Our province was built by agriculture and continues to be so. And due to innovation and reform it has evolved into a notable global leader in production, agricultural manufacturing and in research and development.”
“India has introduced a number of reforms, three bills that have touched upon a very passionate debate and it brings to mind a debate that we had a number of years ago here. We see that debate extending outside India even into Canada,” the Saskatchewan Premier reckoned.
He pointed out, “Growth comes only with change, and change is not always easy. Growth brings great opportunity.”
Moe compared the situation in India after last year’s agricultural deregulation measures to that in his province after the Canadian Wheat Board was abolished in 2012.
Established in 1930 the government did entire marketing for cereal grains Canadian Wheat Board, he stated.
That board, somewhat resembling the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee system in India, had a monopoly over similar goods in western Canada, including in Saskatchewan.
“As agricultural system evolved this system became archaic. Looking back the system then stifled growth, innovation and stifled opportunity,” the Saskatchewan Premier argued.
Moe found more parallels between India’s journey in 2021 and Saskatchewan’s experience in 2012.
He said the reforms brought challenges, but the province’s farmers adapted quickly to those changes, innovated, and were “far better off with the new opportunities. Saskatchewan’s grain exports nearly touched $17 billion and are rising exponentially”.
Also participating in the discussion was India’s high commissioner to Ottawa, Ajay Bisaria, who said, “There is a broad consensus in India that in the agriculture sector, change is imperative. There is consensus on the direction and nature of the reforms. The conversation about reforms is informed by global experience.”
Moe is the senior-most Canadian leader so far to have openly supported the reforms even as protests against the farm laws in India have been echoed across the country, with many residents of Indian origin, mainly those with roots in Punjab, opposing the changes envisaged in the new laws.