• Vidarbha may not gain from loan waiver

    RS 60,000-CRORE BONANZA: The waiver won't help indebted farmers in Chhattisgarh either as most of them hold four and five hectares. The mammoth farm loan waiver of Rs 60,000 crore is unlikely to benefit cotton farmers in Vidarbha and elsewhere as it does not address the fact that dry-land farming attracts far lower loans per acre as irrigated farming. An acre of unirrigated land is entitled to loans of up to Rs 4,000. The same land which is irrigated attracts loans of up to Rs 50,000. In other words, the waiver of loans taken for farmers with two hectares (or 5 acres) would not add up to much for a cotton grower who does dry-land farming, since they have to look at other informal means to meet their borrowing needs In contrast, the per acre loans available for growers of sugarcane, grapes and horticulture crops will benefit hugely. This difference had been pointed out by the Congress party president from Vidarbha Prabha Tai Rao when she had appealed for a waiver of up to Rs 30,000 for farm loans to Finance Minister P Chidambaram recently. "While grape and sugarcane growers will get lakhs of rupees waived in one stroke, the cotton and dry-land farmers will barely get Rs 30,000 waived,' Vijay Jaywanthia, a farmer-turned-activist and a leading voice from the farm distress zone of Vidarbha. The waiver won't help indebted farmers in Chhattisgarh which has been reporting farmer suicides because most of them hold four and five hectares (10 to 12.5 acres). Jaywanthia said the only way this waiver can work in favour of farmers is to waive up to a certain amount, say Rs 50,000 per farmer, or have different waiver limits for dry land and irrigated land farmers. The farmers of Vidarbha are even demanding that the finance minister should come out with a white paper on the money that will go to different tehsils in each district under the waiver. This will expose the anomaly that the waiver intentionally or unintentionally is going to benefit the sugarcane belt besides those growing horticultural crops, Jaywanthia added.

  • Eight lakh farmers to benefit in Haryana

    A historic Budget for the

  • "Punjab has been bleeding itself to feed the nation'

    "Punjab has been bleeding itself in order to feed the nation. It has sacrificed both of its precious natural assets

  • Loan waiver comes as a boon to farmers

    The Union Budget's proposal to waive agricultural loans will bring some relief for farmers of the State. The farmers, who benefited from the loan wavier scheme of the previous Janata Dal (Secular)-Bharatiya Janata Party government in the State, would again benefit from the Centre's loan waiver scheme. There are 60 lakh small and marginal farmers in the State, according to the Agriculture Department. The Union Budget proposal to waive farm loans will benefit those amongst them who have taken loans from scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks (RRBs) and cooperatives in the State. Of the 75.8 lakh farmers in the State, 36.55 lakh are marginal farmers holding up to one hectare of land. There are 28.13 lakh small farmers who have one to two hectares of land in their possession. The marginal holdings account for 48.2 per cent of the total holdings while small holdings account for 26.60 per cent in the State. Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram offered a debt relief package f Rs. 60,000 crore in the budget (2008-09) to four crore farmers in the country. Under the one-time settlement scheme that will benefit large farmers, the government will give a rebate of 25 per cent on payment of outstanding loans. There are 11.11 lakh big farmers in the State. All agricultural loans disbursed by scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks and cooperative credit institutions up to 31 March 2007 and overdue as on 31 December 2007 will be covered under the scheme. The implementation of the debt waiver and debt relief scheme will be completed by June 30. Indebtedness Indebtedness was one of the major factors for farmers' suicide and the agrarian crisis in the State. As many as 61.6 per cent of farmer households are indebted in the State against the national average of 48.6 per cent. In Karnataka, 73.5 per cent of farmer households who owned two hectares of land or less are in debt, according to the National Sample Survey Organisation (2005). Extended The Union Budget has proposed to extend the weather-based crop insurance scheme for the coming kharif season in the State.

  • Sindh farmers want wheat procurement target raised

    The Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) on Sunday asked the government to increase wheat procurement target from 25 per cent to 40 per cent. The chamber's senior vice-president Dr Shahnawaz Shah said at a meeting at the Agriculture Complex that the government should pay growers an additional Rs40 for each 40 kilogrammes of wheat from its own funds to help them offset the high cost of fertilisers and pesticides. The meeting observed that the poor growers would suffer huge losses as the cost of production was much higher than the government's procurement rate of Rs510 per maund and demanded that the procurement offices should be established at union council level and the mode of payment to growers should be simplified. The growers called upon the newly-elected members of the national and provincial assemblies to take up the issue of sugarcane at the first session of assemblies and adopt resolutions against the excesses of sugar mill owners. They demanded that assemblies should ensure that the growers were paid the official rate of Rs63 per 40 kg and pointed out that the cane's production in the province had dropped by 20 per cent due to sugar mill owners' highhandedness and reduced price. Anwar Bachani, Mir Imdad Talpur, Mohammad Khan Sarejo and Nawaz Ali Samejo were among the participants of the meeting. HCCI: The president of the Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry Haji Mohammad Yaqoob on Sunday criticised raids on glass bangle factories by the officials of labour department and said it had seriously hurt the business. He said after meeting a delegation of the office-bearers of Glass Bangle Association that if bangle manufacturing units were closed due to harassment, thousands of workers including a large number of would lose their jobs. He said that the additional director and joint director of labour usually raided factories sometime before morning prayers, which was adversely affecting the production process. Under the relevant labour laws, the officials were supposed to visit the factories only once a year and they were creating harassment by conducting raids on a daily basis, he said. In a separate statement to press, the HCCI president demanded that the government should take back raise in the prices of petrol, diesel and electricity. Increase in power tariff would deal a serious blow to agricultural and industrial production and raise in oil prices would further ratchet up transport fare and prices of other essential items, he said. The cost of industrial production would shoot up considerably due to increase in the prices of petrol, diesel and electricity, which in turn would lead to hyperinflation, he observed. He said that the country was in the grip of energy crisis and urged the government to formulate short term and long term policies to tackle the problem.

  • Debt waiver: Banks may get cash-bond mix

    BUDGET 2008-09 IMPACT DAY-2 No repayment of interest on outstanding loans. The Rs 60,000 crore farm debt waiver and relief package announced in the Budget may not be just in the form of special securities issued by the government, but involve actual money being reimbursed to them. The banks may have to forgo all interest on the outstanding debt amount. The package is only aimed at recovering the principal amount of the loans extended to nearly 40 million small and marginal farmers across the country. In addition, farmers availing of the loan waiver and relief package may have to agree to some conditions, including committing to not seeking debt relief again for a fixed period of time. The banks will be reimbursed over three years from June 30, 2008. In effect, the Rs 60,000 crore may be given in at least three annual tranches. Similarly, the bond component may also be spread in tranches till 2011. Senior government officials told Business Standard that the impression that public sector banks will lose out due to the debt waiver is misplaced. "Banks will actually get strengthened as they now stand to get back at least their principal amount, which otherwise is currently shown as bad debt on their balance sheet. The additional liquidity will help them', he said. However, officials said that the exact details of the debt waiver programme, the biggest hand-out in India's history, will take some time. "There are several options (to compensate banks without burdening the fiscal). We have four months to work that out. The details will be finalised', they added. The rationale for June 30, 2008 being set as the deadline for implantation of the debt waiver and relief scheme is that the loans had to be cleared by that date. The scheme applies to loans disbursed by scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks and co-operative credit institutions up to March 31, 2007 and overdue as on December 31, 2007. Also read on Page 2: Sharad Pawar asks farmers not to repay money-lenders

  • With loan waiver, substantial line of credit has opened up: Pawar

    Upbeat after the loan waiver for farmers, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Saturday said there was no hurry to hold general elections. Denying that the loan waiver was meant as a pre-poll move, he told reporters, "Let us stay in power for another 14 to 15 months.'

  • "Root cause not addressed'

    The Union budget's proposal for clearing the indebtedness of small and marginal farmers is ad hoc. It does not aim at removing the root cause of farmers' deprivation, which is lack of remunerative price for their produce, Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party president said. Describing the budget as "hotch-potch retrograde,' Dr. Swamy said it lacked vision, strategy of reforms or direction. The claims of the Finance Minister on accelerating growth in gross domestic product, output of food grains, institutional credit for agriculture and performance under the Bharat Nirman were misleading as the Economic Survey 2007-2008 revealed the contrary. Besides, "there is no long-term scheme for desperate farmers committing suicide, salaried persons "suffering from inflation,' small and medium industries "suffocated' by globalisation and for stabilising the "volatile' stock market.

  • No relief for farmers in informal sector

    They are indebted to moneylenders and middlemen, and pay huge interest Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Friday unveiled a Rs.60,000-crore debt waiver and debt relief scheme for four crore small, marginal farmers and other institutional loanee farmers. But his proposals did not indicate any provision in the Agriculture Ministry's budgetary allocation, nor was there any explanation on resource mobilisation for the one-time waiver. The Minister later said the government would provide the banking sector liquidity, equivalent to the amount being written off, over three years. The budget ignored 42.3 per cent farmers in the informal sector who are indebted to moneylenders and middlemen and pay phenomenal rates of interest. Their debt stood at Rs. 48,000 crore in 2003 and a majority of farmers who committed suicide borrowed from the informal sector after becoming defaulters in the banking system. No new scheme Nor has any new scheme been announced in this year's agriculture budget. In fact, there have been cuts in the allocations for the National Crop Insurance Scheme and the pilot weather-based crop insurance scheme. At the same time, the Minister did not give in to the wide-scale demand for reduction in the institutional interest rate on farm loans from seven to four per cent. Announcing the never-before debt waiver scheme, Mr. Chidambaram said it was a measure of expressing the nation's gratitude to the farming community. All agricultural loans disbursed by scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks and cooperative credit institutions up to March 31, 2007 and overdue as on December 31, 2007 will be covered under the scheme. For small and marginal farmers with a holding of up to two hectares, there will be a complete waiver of all loans that were overdue on December 31, 2007 and which remained unpaid till February 29, 2008. OTS for others In respect of other farmers, there will be a one-time settlement (OTS) scheme for all loans that were overdue on December 31, 2007 and which remained unpaid till February 29, 2008. Under the OTS, a 25 per cent rebate will be given against payment of the balance of 75 per cent. The agricultural loans restructured and rescheduled by banks in 2004 and 2006 through special packages and other loans rescheduled in the normal course as per the reserve Bank of India guidelines will also be eligible for either waiver or the OTS on the same pattern. The total value of the overdue loans being waived is estimated at Rs. 50,000 crore and the OTS relief, at Rs. 10,000 crore. Over three crore small and marginal farmers and about one crore other farmers will benefit from the scheme. The farmers, after being granted debt waiver or on signing an agreement for OTS relief, will be entitled to fresh loans from banks in accordance with normal rules

  • Farmers' Day on March 5

    The Nuclear Institute of Agriculture Tando Jam is organising Farmers' Day here at the Institute on March 5. In this respect, the Institute has arranged a joint gathering of farmers and agriculture researchers where Dr Abdul Rashid Member Biosciences and Dr Mazhar H Naqvi Director General Agriculture and Biotechnology of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission will deliver speeches on the role of PAEC in agriculture. Copyright Associated Press of Pakistan, 2008

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