Indian farmers march to seek better prices for produce

Thousands of farmers, workers and agricultural laborers marched Wednesday to India's Parliament demanding better wages, more jobs, higher prices for their produce and an end to privatization of state-run companies.

Waving red communist flags and banners, the protesters blamed the Hindu nationalist government for hardships caused by years of declining earnings in the agriculture sector. The farmers want the government to ensure they earn at least one and a half times their costs in producing their crops.

The march was organized by the opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Vijoo Krishnan, joint secretary of the All India Farmers' Group, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government came to power after making many promises, but had betrayed the people.

"They said they would ensure a better life for the working class. So, it is a show of anger against this government and their policies that are only pro-corporate," he said.

Rain-dependent agriculture employs more than half of India's 1.3 billion people, but shrinking earnings mean it now accounts for only 15 percent of India's economy. The bulk of Indian farmers are poor.

Failed harvests force poor farmers to borrow money at high interest rates to buy seeds, fertilizers and food for their cattle. They often mortgage their land and, as debts mount, some are driven to suicide.