New Delhi: The government on Monday favoured setting up of a joint parliamentary panel to go into the issue of farmers' suicide in the wake of contradictory figures emerging from states and National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

"Let us appoint a House Committee with members from both the Houses that can go to the states to look into the issue (farmers' suicide)," Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said in the Rajya Sabha, winding up a debate on agrarian crisis and suicides by farmers.

The entire Opposition, including the BJP, BSP, AIADMK, TDP and the Left, supported the proposal.

Pawar said setting up of a JPC was necessary in the wake of conflicting figures of suicides by the NCRB and the states, 16 of which have reported that there have been no such cases.

"The NCRB has reported 15,900 such cases whereas the state governments have reported only 800 of these," he said.

Welcoming the proposal, Sitaram Yechuri (CPI-M) said, "The whole House agrees that a Committee is needed to investigate and find out ...unless and until we go into depth, visit to
families it is not possible."

Earlier, participating in the debate a united Opposition demanded in the Upper House that ministers connected with the farm sector should be present in the House during Pawar's reply as he has "no power" and is "crippled" in taking decisions.

The House had to be adjourned twice during the Zero Hour on the demand. Later, during the reply at 2 pm, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde were present in the House.

Rejecting opposition's demand to lower interest rate to 4 percent for farmers universally instead of extending it to only those who pay debts on time on short term crop loan up to
Rs three lakh, Mukherjee said, "It would not be possible at this juncture."

"As and when situation improves this could be done," he said adding that to improve the scenario "banks have been instructed to provide Kisan Credit Cards to all eligible farmers. So far it has been given to 10.4 crore...gap has to be filled," he said.

Mukherjee said instructions were given for issue of credit cards to all farmers after his meeting with Chief Ministers of eastern and southern states recently.

Resuming the reply, Pawar said opposition members had pointed out that farming is no longer a viable occupation which is true as "NSS has suggested that at all India level 27
percent farmers feel that agriculture is not a profitable proposition."

He said a separate budget for agriculture was not feasible as several allocations for it are made by other ministries like Power and Water Resources.

On increasing minimum support price (MSP), he said at present it was not possible. "I do appeal to Chief Ministers that they should try to procure at MSP as at many places farmers are selling products below MSP," he said.

Nominated member and noted agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan, whose recommendations on agriculture are yet to be implemented, said the government should convene a special session of Parliament to discuss National Policy for Farmers.

As the government did not meet the demand to convene a special session of the House, members belonging to BJP, BSP, TDP and AIADMK staged a walkout saying the reply was unsatisfactory.

"The Minister's reply has been extensive but the case is that operation is successful but the patient has died...We are not satisfied on the reply...on main issues of special session and minimum support price there has been no reply. As a protest we are walking out of the House," BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said.

Agencies