Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Members cutting across party lines on Thursday said that agriculture had become economically unviable on account of low investment, both by the government and private sector, and the delay in service delivery to farmers.

Speaking on a debate on agricultural and rural development in the Legislative Assembly, Sharan Prakash Rudrappa Patil (Congress), Karadi Sanganna (JD-S) and Appachu Ranjan (BJP) said government investment in the farm sector was negligible.

Dependence on monsoon and untimely supply of inputs to farmers by government agencies had resulted in decline in the agricultural growth in the State.

Mr. Patil said only 14 per cent of the budget amount had been set aside for agricultural development, which was inadequate for accelerating the farm growth rate. The agrarian economy could be revived only by increasing the budget outlay to at least 30 per cent.

Unlike in other sectors, private firms refrained from investing in agricultural and rural development sectors, he claimed.

Mr. Patil said the Government’s initiatives had failed to spur farm growth on account of delay in distribution of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, granting of farm loans and payment of crop insurance.

Despite amendments to the APMC Act, 1966, there had been no substantial investment in the marketing sector.

He urged the Government to offer tax concessions to industrialists to set up agro-based industries in the backward taluks of the State.

Mr. Sanganna said the rural people were denied basic services such education, roads, electricity and housing. Literacy rate was very low in north Karnataka districts, and only 27 per cent of the land had been provided with irrigation facility. Unlike Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the State had not exploited its irrigation potential for increasing the cultivable area.

Mr. Ranjan said overall economic progress could be achieved only by developing infrastructure in rural areas and increasing the income of farmers. Heavy rains in the district had damaged standing crops, he said and urged the Government to pay suitable compensation to the affected farmers.