Moved by the spate of suicides by farmers in various parts of the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today made a strong case for better prices for farm products, even if it meant that prices of some food commodities have to go up.
"We need to understand that if we want better prices for farmers so that they earn a better livelihood, the prices of what they produce and sell will have to go up. We certainly cannot grudge our farmers better incomes when incomes of other sections of society are rising," he said in his Independence day address to the nation from the ramparts of historic Red Fort in New Delhi.
Referring to his visit to Vidarbha, Singh said the plight of the farmers there made a deep impact on him. "The agricultural crisis that is forcing them to take the desperate step of committing suicide needs to be resolved. We need to think about how we can provide a decent livelihood to our farmers?" he said.
Singh said farmers in many parts of the country were in a crisis, not managing to eke out a decent living from their land. "We will need to work towards ensuring more remunerative prices for our farmers," he said.
Even as he mentioned the various steps taken by the government to address the problems of the farmers, the prime minister said much still needed to be done to improve their prospects.
"I am aware of the acute distress of our farmers who bear the burden of heavy debt. We have recently constituted an expert group to look into the problem of agricultural indebtedness. I am confident that in a few months, we will take concrete measures to help our farmers overcome the burden of crushing debt," he said.