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Farmers weigh on UPA's conscience

Agricultural issues, including farmers' suicides, dominate discussions at the Congress CM's conclave. Speak up

india Updated: Sep 25, 2006 10:52 IST

When things got a bit heated during the 10-hour discussion on agriculture at the Congress chief ministers' conclave in Nainital on Saturday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened to say that he would "look into" the issues of agricultural credit and indebtedness that had been raised.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said the prime minister's relief package to debt-ridden farmers had brought some respite to farmers in Vidarbha.

But the news from the Vidarbha region on Sunday was grim: 11 farmers committed suicide in the past 24 hours. They were from Buldhana, Yavatmal, Amravati, Wardha, Washim and Akola districts. Since the prime minister's visit in July, 298 farmers have committed suicide; at least 97 deaths have been reported in September alone.

In Nainital, some AICC leaders criticised the government for being "anti-farmer". Digvijay Singh and Satyavrat Chaturvedi were among those who said that the Centre needed to change its "mindset" about the problems faced by farmers.

Manmohan Singh was more specific in his concluding remarks to the conclave on Sunday. He said there was a case for reviewing the system of procurement, the fixing of the minimum support price, the terms of external assistance and the import tariff on commodities. "Each farmer has to, in the final analysis, find agriculture remunerative," he said.

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