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 year’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.

India’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 India’s vast agricultural land depends on rain in the absence of modern irrigation technology thereby leaving a fifth of the country’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.