There are 401 villages in Gujarat where farmers have suffered crop loss of 33 per cent or more during this year’s Kharif season.
The latest State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) report that was unveiled on Thursday show that the farmers incurred crop losses despite the state government’s efforts to provide Narmada water to save the Kharif crops after a poor monsoon.
Drought conditions have given rise to bad loans
According to bankers in Gujarat, drought conditions in the state and hopes of a farm-loan waiver due to an approaching Lok Sabha elections in 2019 have contributed to the sharp rise of NPAs (Non-Performing Assets) in crop loan and agriculture term loans availed by the farmers. In comparison to the Rs 1,425 crore crop-loan NPAs that was clocked in Gujarat at the end of September 2017, the quantum of bad loans rose by 51.4 per cent to Rs 2,158 crore at end of September, 2018. Similarly, the quantum of agriculture term loans rose by 19 per cent to Rs 3,261 crore by the end of second quarter of 2018-19 fiscal.
In a total of 269 villages, farmers have suffered crop loss of 50 per cent or more, states the SLBC report.
These villages are spread across 11 districts where the state government declared 51 talukas as “drought-affected” in October, 2018.
Though the total number of farmers suffering the crop loss has not been shared in the report, the maximum number of villages with 50 per cent or more crop loss are in the district of Kutch.
About 90 villages in this district fall in this category where all the 10 talukas were declared drought-affected after they received less than 250 mm rainfall this monsoon.
The other districts where farmers have suffered more than 50 per cent crop loss are Banaskantha (49 villages), Surendranagar (42), Morbi (30), Patan (27), Rajkot (11), Devbhoomi Dwarka (10), Bhavnagar (6) and Jamnagar (4). Only Ahmedabad and Mehsana districts have no villages in this category.
Similarly, there are 132 additional villages where farmers have suffered crop loss between 33 and 50 per cent.
Most of these villages fall in the district of Patan (59 villages), Banaskantha (27) and Mehsana (24).
The state government has already declared that it will be spending Rs 5,100 crore in these 51 talukas to help
the farmers tide over the crop loss.
This includes a lump-sum amount of Rs 6,500 per hectare to every farmer in these talukas.
The Government of India will also be pitching in aid for this purpose.
Even farmers outside the 11 districts have complained of crop loss.
Pratap Khistariya whose family owns about 58 bighas of land near Ranavav in Porbandar district told The Indian Express, “We lost most of our groundnut crop that we had sown during the Kharif season. So as we continue to not have enough water for irrigation, we are not taking the Rabi crop this year.”
Reducing coverage of PMFBY
Interestingly the performance of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) during the last three Kharif seasons between 2016-18 shows a 7.4 per cent dip in the number of farmers applying for crop insurance, but a phenomenal 67 per cent increase in the quantum of premiums collected from the farmers.
The SLBC report shows that the number of PMFBY applications from farmers dipped from 12,98,161 in Kharif 2016 to 12,02,097 applications in Kharif 2018.
The farm area covered under PMFBY also dipped by 13 per cent from 25.67 lakh hectares in Kharif 2016 to just 22.42 lakh hectares in Kharif 2018.
In comparison, the premiums collected from farmers under PMFBY rose from Rs 224.30 crore in 2016 to Rs 374.91 crore in 2018.
When quizzed about the trend, Rohit Patel, the convener of SLBC-Gujarat, claimed that the variations are due to farmers opting for crops, which are not covered under the scheme that was launched in February 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The State Level Bankers’ Committee report also points out that the state government after declaring the drought has also “called for information about crop loan financed during the period from April 1 to September 30, 2018.”
Gujarat government is also providing 19,000 cusecs of Narmada water for irrigation for the ongoing Rabi season where the sowing has so far been lacklustre.