The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government on Monday announced that farmers would be given interest-free crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh. Over 35 lakh farmers are likely to benefit from the scheme that will increase the financial burden on the state exchequer by around Rs 1,200 crore. Presenting the state Budget in the Legislative Assembly, Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar said that in 2020-21, despite the deficit growth in the industry and services sector, agriculture and allied sectors grew by 11.7 per cent. The agricultural sector had helped the state’s economy to recover, he added.
“Paying interest on crop loans was often a problem for farmers. Keeping in view the objective to free farmers from interest burden and preventing them from turning defaulter, the government has decided to provide zero per cent interest loans to farmers who take crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh and repay it on time. The amount of the interest on crop loan will be paid by the government. The required funds will be provided by the government,” said Pawar in his Budget speech.
He added that the interest-free crop loan scheme would start from this Kharif season. The existing scheme of providing concessions in interest on crop loans is being converted into interest-free crop loan scheme, he added. Pawar also announced Rs 2,000 crore allocation for strengthening agricultural produce market committees (APMCs). “The APMCs lack basic facilities for farmers, who bring their produce there for sale. So, it is imperative to provide these facilities,” he added.
In his speech, Pawar highlighted that to prevent farmer suicides, the MVA government had implemented the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule farmer loan waiver scheme. Under the scheme, an amount of Rs 19,929 crore has been credited to the accounts of 31.23 lakh farmers. “It also paved the way for farmers to get new loans. In 2019-20, crop loans amounting to Rs 28,604 crore were disbursed, after debt relief, loans worth Rs 42,433 crore were disbursed in 2020-21.”
However, the MVA government did not make any announcement about giving Rs 50,000 as incentive to farmers who repay their loans on time and a one-time settlement option for those having loans above Rs 2 lakh. “We had promised to give Rs 50,000 to farmers who repay their loans on time and the one-time settlement option. We have not moved away from this promise. If the economic situation restores in future, the chief minister is of the view to consider these promises,” said Pawar.