Agriculture experts urged India to ensure cheaper bank loans for farmers to help them avoid local money lenders with high interest rates.
Participants in a pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, on Friday asked the government to settle incentives in order to enhance the productivity of the farm sector in next yearâ€™s budget.
Representatives of the farm sector demanded more investment with a focus on irrigation to increase productivity while trade unions sought pro-people policies and higher corporate and individual tax for the rich to increase the tax-GDP ratio.
Indiaâ€™s farm output grew by an annual 2.6 percent from April to September, a rate lower than the industry and services sectors. Policymakers are debating on how to increase farm growth to 4 percent annually in the next five years.
Most of Indiaâ€™s vast agricultural land depends on rain in the absence of modern irrigation technology thereby leaving a fifth of the countryâ€™s $800 billion economy vulnerable to the whims of nature.
Experts urged increased investment in irrigation, marketing and infrastructure, as well as low-interest agricultural loans. Agriculturalists also asked the government to work out financially feasible exit routes for farmers and suggested educating the farmers about the WTO framework.