"Because of cumbersome banking processes and under the burden of debt farmers are resorting to suicide...around 2,70,000 farmers have committed suicide in past 20 years," Modi said, after inaugurating the Vibrant Gujarat Global Agriculture Summit 2013 at Mahatma Mandir.
    
"Central government is merely talking about banking sector, about NABARD, but it is very painful to state that even today less than 30 percent of farmers are able to avail of bank loans. Rest are forced to take loans from private money lenders who are charging such a high interest rate that it destroys farmers," Modi said.
     
"Banking process is so cumbersome that it does not benefit farmers. Why can't we have farmer-friendly banking process? Unless we make it more farmer-friendly we won't be able to save our farmers," he said.
     
He claimed that every day 2,500 farmers were leaving the agriculture. 
    
"Farmers have felt so insecure that they are leaving farming. This shows that a grave crisis is looming over us," he said.
        
Agriculture productivity in India was falling, compared to other countries, Modi said.
    
"Netherlands is producing 8.9 tonnes per hectare of wheat while India has 2.8 tonnes per hectare capacity. Peru, a tiny country in terms of agriculture, is producing 125 tonnes per hectare sugarcane, whereas we are producing 66 tonnes. In Banana production, Indonesia has average of 60 tonnes per hectare while in India it is 38 tonnes," he said.
     
Taking potshots at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said, "Couple of years back I suggested to him that a legal provision should be introduced to make 5 percent natural juice content compulsory in every aerated drink, like Pepsi, Coca Cola, Fanta. This will help our farmers a lot. But the suggestion was ignored under the pressure of multinational companies."
     
About the Summit, Modi said, "This is a first of its kind (initiative) in Gujarat and India where so many countries of the world have become partners. It would have been better if such an event had been organised by the government in Delhi."
     
He said more than 4,000 farmers from 542 districts of 29 states and two Union Territories had arrived in Gandhinagar to participate.
     
Modi suggested that every state should formulate its own Agriculture Export Promotion policy.
     
"If we empower our farmers, they have the strength to solve even current account deficit crisis," he said.
     
Inaugural session of the two-day Global Agriculture Summit was addressed by Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal; Minister-Counsellor, Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Denmark Anders Adamsen; Agriculture Minister, Madhya Pradesh Ramkrishna Kusmariya, and Chairman Agriculture Costs and Prices, Government of India, Ashok Gulati.

(Agencies)

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