Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Government on Saturday announced that farmers in the state will get interest-free loans.

"This zero percent rate of interest would be applicable for loans given to farmers since April 1 this year", Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said after ending his 24-hour fast undertaken to protest the hike in fertiliser prices over the last one year.

When the Congress was in power, farmers used to get loans at 12 percent, which had been gradually reduced to 3 per cent by the BJP Government and now no interest will be charged from agriculturists, he said.

The BJP Government in Madhya Pradesh wanted to make agriculture a profitable venture for farmers but the Congress- led ruling coalition at the Centre, through its polices, was only increasing the financial burden on them, Chouhan asserted.

Prices of fertilisers in the country had been increased two to three times in the last one year and this had imposed a heavy burden on farmers, the Chief Minister said.

He said there should be a clear-cut fertiliser policy under which prices of the key farm input are fixed by the Government from time to time.

If fertiliser prices are determined by market forces, as being contemplated by the Centre, their rates will change every month. The Centre should fix fertiliser prices in each season as it does in case of agricultural produce, he said.

The CM said there was no point in asking the states to reduce taxes imposed by the Centre on various farm-related items. "I find it strange that on the one hand the Centre goes on increasing prices and on the other we are expected to bring them down".

Speaking on the occasion, state BJP President Prabhat Jha said the opposition Congress had lost the will to fight against the BJP and cited the ruling party's victory in the just-held bypoll to Maheshwar Assembly seat.


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