At a time when agricultural loan waivers are making headlines, the BJP-led government in Assam has decided to launch three ambitious schemes aimed at extending monetary aid to farmers in the state. The initiatives are expected to cost the state over Rs 1,000 crore.
The three schemes were part of the promises made by the Sarbananda Sonowal government in the state budget. "Assam has 27 lakh agricultural households spread across 26,000 villages, and they are covered by about 1,800 rural and semi-urban branches of commercial banks and regional rural banks. However, the flow of much-needed agricultural credit to farmers tends to get clogged in a majority of the cases. This is why the state cabinet has approved the Assam Farmers Credit Subsidy Scheme, under which the government will deposit 25% of the total loan amount paid by farmers this financial year. The maximum limit is Rs 25,000," said Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
"This scheme will cover four lakh farmers, involving a financial outgo of Rs 500 crore," he claimed, adding that the schemes will be tweaked for small tea and rubber growers.
The second scheme is the Assam Farmers Interest Relief Scheme, which will extend additional support to farmers who repay their loans on time by providing interest subvention of 4% on short-term crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh. Mr Sarma said this initiative, which will cost the state Rs 200 crore, will benefit 11 lakh farmers.
The Assam Farmers Incentive Scheme, for its part, aims to open a credit line that will enable the state government to pay a one-time cash incentive of up to Rs 10,000 for reactivating Kisan Credit Card accounts. This will cost the government Rs 300 crore, benefiting three lakh farmers.
Mr Sarma, however, clarified that these schemes do not fall in the realm of loan waivers. "Instead, they are aligned with the banking system to ensure that farmers in Assam do not face any agricultural distress," he said.
Farm loans were waived in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan over the last few days, shortly after the Congress came to power there.
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