Indian farmers demand cheap loans

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New Delhi, Jan 7 (ANI): India needs to sharply increase public spending on agriculture, particularly by way of low-interest loans, to raise farm output, a farmers' consortium urged the central government on Wednesday.

Growth in India's farm sector, which depends heavily on erratic monsoon rains, has lagged the rapid growth in the industrial and services sectors, which have gained from two decades of liberal reforms.

India's Eleventh Five Year Plan, which began in 2007, aims to double annual agricultural growth to 4 percent, and the government has given top priority to the target.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee held a meeting with stakeholders in the farming sector, which was attended by delegates of farmers' unions.

Officials said they had urged the government to give low-cost loans to marginal farmers.

"The government will be able to look into the banking sector as more reforms are needed and banks has to reach more and more farmers. We have demanded about three per cent of interest for the marginal farmers loan," said P. Chengal Reddy, secretary general, Consortium of Indian Farmers' Association.

Reddy also said the consortium asked the government to cut wastages while subsidising the sector.

"The issue is that they are giving more than three lakhs crore to farmers by the way of subsidy as fertilizers and various other factors. It is evident that there is lot wastage and so there was a unanimous suggestion from farmers and economists that the subsidy and other facilities must be given in the form of coupons," he added.

This year, the worst monsoon in 37 years ravaged India's rice and cane crop, making the country surge to the highest in nearly three decades.(ANI)

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