Farmers in the 14 drought-hit districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada regions — majority of whom are small and marginal farmers — are facing severe hardship following the failure of financial institutions to provide them with new crop loans for 2018-2019, said sources in the government.
Despite CM Devendra Fadnavis directing the financial institutions to disburse at least 95 per cent of the allocated crop loan to farmers, data from the ministry of cooperation and marketing show that till now, while loan disbursement through national banks has merely been 15 per cent, cooperative district banks have achieved 47 per cent of their target. This assumes significance as officials said that around 85 per cent of the allocated loan is usually disbursed in the kharif season (July to October).
Almost 40 lakh of the total 1.37 crore farmers in Maharashtra are from drought-prone districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada. The government has allocated Rs 58,862 crore for crop loans for the year 2018-19. However, a source in the government said: “The total crop loan disbursed to farmers across Maharashtra has not exceeded Rs 15,000 crore.”
“The national banks’ performance is a cause of serious concern. Unless national banks double their efforts in the next two weeks, it would be impossible to meet the target of 95 per cent,” a senior secretary requesting anonymity said. “The banks have cited their own reasons for the slow pace of loan disbursement. Their argument is that unless they scrutinise each and every case, giving loan to farmers is not possible,” an official said.
A member of the State Task Force for Agriculture Commission, Kishore Tiwari, said: “The delay in crop loan disbursement this kharif season is going to adversely affect small and medium farmers, specially in Vidarbha and Marathwada. Unfortunately, banks are not showing the same urgency as displayed by the government.”
An official in NABARD said, “The crop loan disbursement pattern has undergone changes over the last five years. The crop loan share of cooperative banks in showing a decline — from 45.67 per cent between 2012-13 to 36.92 per cent in 2016-17. Whereas, the crop loan share of commercial banks have increased from 48.55 per cent (2012-13) to 58.06 per cent (2016-17). The crop loan share of rural banks have remained constant at five per cent.”