DEMONETISATION WOES may have eased out to quite an extent in the urban areas but its effect is still felt over the rural regions of the state. Cash crunch with the rural banks has resulted in just 24 per cent disbursal of Rabi crop loans till December end as against 31 per cent disbursal noticed last year. Rabi acreage in Maharashtra is significantly lower than Kharif but still is an important source of income for the farmers. In many parts of the state, a quick Rabi crop of moong is cultivated to replenish soil nutrients. Disbursal of Rabi crop loans starts in September and major chunk of the loans is disbursed by end of January.
Figures from the State Level Banker’s Committee (SLBC) showed that the target set for crop loan disbursal for the year 2016-17 was Rs 13,558 crore, of which Rs 3,277 crore has been disbursed till end of December. District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCB)s have just disbursed 11 per cent of their target while public sector banks had disbursed 28 per cent of their target. Private banks with their disbursal of 31 per cent loan was the best of the lot.
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This year’s disbursal stood much lower than the last year’s despite the fact that in 2015-16, the state was drought hit. The Rabi crop loan target for last year was Rs 12,074 crore and by December 2015, Rs 3,791 crores was distributed — 31 per cent of the target. DCCBs had disbursed 18 per cent of their target while public sector and private banks had disbursed 38 per cent and 44 per cent respectively.
Low disbursal of crop loans was a clear effect of demonetisation, said bankers. Rural banks— both cooperative and commercial —had complained of severe cash crunch even as urban centres were referred to by banks over them. With a highly-intensive cash dependent rural economy, less disbursal of loans would mean that this will have a direct impact on the agriculture sector.
A report prepared by the Department of Farmers’ Welfare and Cooperative shows Maharashtra has reported 18 lakh hectares of sowing as against 12 lakh hectares of last year. Agriculture commodity export Deepak Chavan said sowing figures showed that the rural area has adopted an informal credit system which has sustained them. “The dip in crop loan disbursal is in tandem with the cash crunch being faced by the rural banks,” he said.