Drones dropped tear-gas canisters and the police fired rubber bullets as farmers from the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana marched toward New Delhi earlier this month, navigating nail pads strewn on heavily barricaded roads.

Similar scenes played out three years ago. Back then, farmers had amassed at the border of the Indian capital to oppose three hastily passed laws that would have allowed a greater role for markets in what has historically been a state-dominated food supply chain.

But the protesters saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to transform agriculture as a backdoor entry for large businesses and an eventual abandonment of so-called minimum support prices (MSPs). These government-administered rates are key to the agrarian economies of Punjab and a few other Indian states, whereby the government purchases large quantities of wheat and rice in designated markets, known as "mandis.”