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Package for marginal farmers, Budget to address credit: PM

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New Delhi, Feb 23 (UNI) The government will soon announce a package for marginal farmers and address in the Budget the credit problem faced by the agriculture sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today.

''I have asked the Agriculture Minister (Sharad Pawar) to prepare a package for addresing the problems of marginal farmers,'' Dr Singh said in his reply to the Lok Sabha debate on President's address.

Responding to a suggestion made by Mr Prabhunath Singh (JD-U) for providing fertiliser subsidy directly to farmers, Dr Singh said this was ''an idea worth considering'' and disclosed that Mr Pawar would formulate the package.

Acknowledging that the existing institutional arrangements were possibly ''inadequate'' in their current form to address the problems afflicting farmers fully, Dr Singh said Finance Minister P Chidambaram ''will be addressing this matter in his Budget speech.'' Asserting that flow of agricultural credit had improved, he, however, admitted that credit to farmers, particularly small and marginal farmers, ''is still a matter of concern.'' ''We have a problem of both excessive indebtedness and dependence on moneylenders for a high proportion of credit,'' the Prime Minister said.

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