Indian farmers deep in debt, seek subsidies, help with insurance
Indian government action to increase spending on irrigation and crop insurance is not enough to end a cycle of indebtedness that has led to thousands of farmer suicides, and a complete overhaul of credit and subsidies to farmers is needed, activists said.
Drought in many parts of the country has hit rice, cotton and other crops, and lower world commodity prices have added to the farmers' plight.
More than half India's farming households are in debt, owing banks and moneylenders hundreds of millions of rupees, despite numerous loan write-offs by successive governments. Tens of thousands of farmers across the country have killed themselves over the past decade, several farmers' lobbying groups said.
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who presents the federal budget for fiscal 2016-17 on Feb. 29, has to balance stimulating economic growth with aiding farmers and poorer sections of society.
Farmers' groups have been demanding better monsoon forecasts, bigger fertiliser subsidies and a state-funded insurance scheme for all crops, to help farmers improve yields and help prevent crop failures.