Bhopal, Oct 9 (IANS) Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury Monday called upon the central government to invest more in agriculture and irrigation to help distressed farmers and prevent agrarian suicides.
'Though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced a package for farmers but that has brought little relief and many farmers have been forced to commit suicide in several regions, including Vidarbha,' Yechury told reporters here.
While the government claimed to have doubled the relief amount for farmers, only 40 percent farmers were benefiting from it, the CPI-M politburo member said.
Steps should be taken to ensure that the institutional credit reached the farmers and they were not burdened by high rates of interest, said Yechury whose party supports the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from outside.
'Unless something is done urgently the country's food security itself may come under severe threat,' he said.
'True and complete' self-sufficiency in food could not be achieved unless massive investments were made to increase the levels of irrigation which currently covered 34.8 percent of farmlands, Yechuri said.
Referring to the debate over acquisition of farmlands for developing special economic zones (SEZs), Yechury said non-agricultural land should be preferred over mono-crop land for the purpose.
'In case it is essential to acquire multi-crop zone for developing an SEZ, farmers should be given a compensation at 152 percent of the market rate, as is being done in West Bengal', he said.