President expresses concern over farmer suicides

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Amravati, Maharashtra, Oct 13 (UNI) Expressing concern at the large number of suicides by distressed farmers in the country, especially in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, President Pratibha Patil today called for effective implementation of the relief package for them.

Speaking at a function to felicitate her here this evening, Mrs Patil said she had received suggestions from several quarters on the ways and means to improve the farmers' relief package. ''I have forwarded these to the government. These are being considered sympathetically,'' she said.

''I held a meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and officials from the Government of Maharashtra at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on October 6 to get first-hand information about the problem and the steps being taken by the Centre and the state to tackle it,'' Mrs Patil said.

Although the government had announced a package, concerted efforts on other fronts were also necessary to alleviate the suffering of the farmers, the President said. ''We must try to increase farm productivity. Irrigation facilities must be improved. The farmers must be provided quality seeds and fertilizers,'' she said.

Mrs Patil said besides agriculture, farmers must also take up supplementary activities like dairy farming to improve their economic condition. ''The ancient system of spending time together in the main village square was also an effective support system, with farmers getting automatic counselling for their problems,'' the President said. The tradition had stopped, she said, and called upon voluntary organisations to provide counselling to the farmers.

The high incidence of suicides by farmers in Vidarbha was unfortunate since the soil in the region was very fertile, Mrs Patil said. ''However, suicide is not the way out of the problem. It puts the bereaved family into grave difficulty,'' she said.


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