Farmers in Maharashtra hope for mega bonanza in forthcoming budget

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Vidarbha (Maharashtra), Feb 18 : Farmers in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, ahead of the annual general budget, harbour huge expectations from Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

Vidarbha, near Nagpur is well-known for high-quality oranges and farmers here expect implementation of special relief packages in the forthcoming budget.

Impoverished farmers are debt-ridden and claim that they are not able to even recover their costs.

The farmers also claim that they do not receive subsidies on time, and whatever little they do, is not enough.

"Cotton does not grow well so we face losses. Even growing oranges has not been profitable. The government buys seeds from us and sells them further at triple price. The farmers are committing suicide because of poverty," said Suresh Pund, Head of Gram Panchayat, Aashti district.

The farmers want their debts to be written off and demand that the government should also bring down the rate of interest on borrowings.

Another problem that farmers in the region hope will be addressed in the budget is the issue of electricity supply.

The region has experienced three consecutive droughts and scores of farmers have committed suicides in the past year following crop failure and growing indebtedness.

India has officially admitted to the death of 3,600 farmers over the last five years, most of whom are unable to repay their loans and the huge interest payments on them due to failure of crops.

Agriculture supports 600 million people, but contributes only a fifth of India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounts for only 12 per cent of bank credit.

About 87 per cent marginal farmers and 70 per cent of small farmers have no access to credit from a formal financial institution, the World Bank said, adding that they often have to rely on extortionist money lenders.

ANI

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