Mumbai: The NABARD and leading banks in the country should make more credit available to the districts from where higher number of farmer suicides have been reported, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said here today.

He was addressing a state credit seminar organised by the NABARD. "Apart from making available increased credit, the banks should also concentrate on water conservation and take a lead in strengthening the agricultural economy," Fadnavis said.

"The agricultural sector is facing several challenges. This has led to a depleted agricultural development rate. 50 per cent of the state's population is dependent on the agricultural sector," he said.

Focus paper presented at the seminar proposes certain initiatives for the development of the agricultural sector. "Mere papers won't be of much help. Financial institutions need to create a network to deliver the credit
facilities right up to the rural level and take concrete steps to run it effectively," Fadnavis said.

Banks need to increase the availability of credit manifold and go beyond figures of loans distributed and recovered and try to check whether the loans have been helpful in development of agricultural produce, he said.

He also stressed on the importance of water conservation measures saying that it was the single factor which can provide impetus to the development of the sector and appealed to the bankers to focus on (lending for) the water conservation for the next two-three years.