Blockades on India's roads as farm protests widen

While the initial protests were started by rice and wheat growers from northern India who camped out on the outskirts of New Delhi, demonstrations have spread across the country, especially in states not ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party.

The federal government has offered concessions to the farmers but refuses to repeal three laws passed last year that it says are crucial to bring new investment to the sector, which accounts for nearly 15% of India's $2.9 trillion economy and about half its workforce.

Farmers fear the reforms will leave them at the mercy of big corporate buyers, gradually ending the current practice of assured government purchases.

Saturday's three-hour "chakka jam", or road blockade, started around noon across the country, except in New Delhi and a couple of neighboring states.

The protests were largely held on national and state highways but it was business as usual in most cities.