Farmers' welfare more important than credit: Pawar

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Beed, Maharashtra, Mar 8 (UNI) Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today indicated that the government might reduce interest rates of farm loans for those who promptly repay it.

Participating in a ''Kisan Rally'' here he said, ''The Congress was not keen on taking the credit of loan waivers but we are interested in changing the lives of the farmers.'' Referring to the Maharashtra Government's demand for increasing the acreage limit to beyond five acres, he said the Centre was seriously thinking over extending the limit and a decision about the irrigated lands would also be taken soon.

''The previous NDA Government did not have any knowledge of agriculture. During its regime only 1.5 per cent share of the Union Budget was allocated for agricultural sector,'' Mr Pawar said adding that his party was keen to uplift the farmers.

''In recent years, many Indians have joined the list of world's richest persons. Due to their vision, hardwork and devotion Indian industries were also creating records in the world and on the other hand, the farmers were moving towards poverty,'' he pointed out.

''Yesterday's landlords are marginal farmers of today and have become defaulters. They don't get loans from any bank and therefore they approach money-lenders and end up having suicidal tendencies,'' Mr Pawar explained saying that in order to stop this we took this decision.

Mr Pawar also denied charges by opposition parties that only West Maharashtra will benefit from this decision.

President of Maharashtra State NCP, Arun Gujarati, Union Aviation Minister Praful Patel, Deputy Cheif Minister R R Patil, NCP State Vice-President Jaydutt Kshisagar and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.


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