New Delhi: Kerala Congress (M), a UPA ally,
has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to provide interest-
free loans to farmers to save them from debt trap and
"In order to solve the problems of farmers for investment
in agriculture on a permanent basis, the interest on
agricultural loans should be removed completely," Kerala
Congress (M), headed by state Finance Minister K M Mani, said
in its approach paper for 12th Five Year Plan submitted to the
Kerala Congress (M), whose main source of support is the
farming community, is also a key ally of state`s ruling
Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
"In the 12th Plan, steps should be taken to ensure
interest-free loans to farmers," it said.
The approach paper said the primary requirement for
agricultural development is making agricultural credit
available at liberal terms and conditions.
"It is interest and compound interest on loans that lead
to debt trap and farmer suicides," it stated.
The paper said the five per cent interest subsidy
announced in the Kerala budget is a modest attempt to reduce
Observing that Kerala is lagging behind in agriculture
sector, the approach paper said more attention should be paid
during the 12th Plan with regard to the state.
"Kerala is one of the states which exhibited worst
performance at the agricultural fronts during the 11th Plan
period. During the four years from 2006-07, all India average
growth of agriculture sector remained positive. During the
period, the rate of growth of Kerala`s agricultural sector was
negative," it said.
Pointing out that almost 45 per cent of Kerala`s
population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood,
the paper said that ignoring this sector goes against the
long-term interest of the state.