Alluding to the link between high debt and farmers suicides, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday favoured a debate on regulating private money lenders, as he admitted that many parts of the country were facing an agricultural crisis.
"What do farmers need—a lower rate of interest or reliable access to credit at reasonable rate? Do we need to bring in money lenders under some form of regulation", he asked as he inaugurated the second Agriculture Summit in New Delhi.
"It is necessary that we find answers to these questions in the near future", the prime minister said, adding that "there is a crisis in agriculture in many regions of the country".
On checking inflation, which is hovering above 5 per cent now, he said: "While the government will do whatever is necessary to keep prices under check and ensure moderate rates of inflation, we cannot sacrifice the interests of the farming community".
He also wanted suggestions on enhancing the institutional framework such as for the Self-help Groups and Micro-Finance Institutions for improving the lot of farmers.