The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, visited to Vidarbha in Maharashtra. He told the farmers at Dhamangaon in Amravati district and Waifad village in Wardha district that his Government would definitely do something to resolve the agrarian crisis in the region.
Dr Singh is expected to announce a package for the people on Saturday after his visit to Koljheri village in Yavatmal, a district that has seen the highest number of farmers suicides in Maharashtra. Dr Singh said irrigation was inadequate in Vidarbha and he would talk with the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, and the Chief Minister, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, to prepare a scheme which would improve things in six districts of the region over the next three years.
He agreed with the farmers that fair prices were not being given for their produce. He said that he had no immediate solution but would call the Commissioner of the Agriculture Costs and Prices Commission and find out how it could be resolved. He said his Government understands that India is an agrarian nation and it would be so for a while. He said that increasing production and linking jobs to agriculture would have to be done in the future.
He said he would talk to the Chief Minister about problems relating to irrigation, need for improving animal husbandry and livelihoods and horticulture. Both the State and the Centre will help in improving the situation and immediate necessities like ensuring the quality of seeds can be dealt with.
Responding to a representation that globalisation had harmed Indian farmers interests, Dr Singh said India had kept safeguards in the World Trade Organisation Treaty to protect farmers and it would even be possible to increase duties. He said it was difficult to keep away from the rest of the world.