The union minister of state for finance, Pawan Kumar Bansal,, on Sunday asserted that while India was progressing on the economic front it was a matter of concern that the growth in agriculture was around two or three per cent of the GDP. Inaugurating a regional seminar on “Framer and Finance – 2006 an Beyond” organized by Amrik Singh Cheema Foundation Trust here, he said that in order to maintain GDP –of eight per cent, the growth on agriculture should be four per cent.

Dr. Satish C Jha, Member, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India addressing the farmers in the Seminar on "Farmer and the Finance - 2006 & Beyond" held on May 28, 2006 at Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh.

“It is said that India lives in villages but the living conditions are not good,” he admitted. Mr. Bansal said there was a demand for bringing farming under tax net but the union government was not prepared for it. He said that NGOs like Dr. Amrik Singh Cheema Foundation trust should spread the message to the farmers to avail various schemes of farm credit available to them from the banks. To a suggestion by Trust chairman Jagdeep Singh Cheema, regarding the entry of corporate into agriculture where they may have farmers as share-holders or partners, he said the farmers would have to work together to realize the.

Satish C. Jha, Member, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, in his keynote address expressed concern about the agricultural growth in Punjab & Haryana which was less than one per cent. He also expressed concern are the excessive mechanization of farms which had reduced the labor absorption capacity resulting in severe implications for poverty. Moreover, 78 per cent of all the farm households in Punjab were under debt. He asserted that it would be a shame for the country to let Punjab and Haryana continue with deepening agricultural crisis.

This trend must halt at its earliest, he added. Meanwhile, a release issued by the SBI said it had actively participated in the seminar. It further said that SBI’s farm credit which was Rs.1,193 crores in March 2004 had reached Rs. 2,274 crores in March 2006.

The main thrust of the Bank was on financing diversification of agricultural activities, organic farming, contract farming, value chain financing, finance for infrastructure, grading and standardization, produce market loans etc. Representatives from several other banks including Punjab National Bank, Punjab and Sind Bank. Centurion Bank of Punjab and NABARD attended the seminar.