In order to provide financial assistance to farmers at a time when Rabi harvest and Kharif sowing is at its peak, the Centre on Thursday announced that Rs 30,000 crore additional emergency working capital funding will be provided to farmers through NABARD.
This will be provided for crop loan requirements. "This is over and above Rs 90,000 crore to be approved by NABARD through normal finance methods," said finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman as she made the second tranche of announcements for the government’s economic package.
The Centre expects that this will benefit 3 crore farmers, mostly small and marginal. "This is to meet post-harvest Rabi and current Kharif requirement in May and June," added Sitharaman.
Apart from this, Rs 2 lakh crore concessional credit will be extended to help 2.5 crore farmers through Kisan credit cards. "A special drive will be undertaken to provide concessional credit to PM-KISAN beneficiaries through Kisan credit cards," said Sitharaman in her media briefing on Thursday.
This scheme will also include fishermen and animal husbandary farmers. "2.5 crore farmers will be covered and will benefit from credit flow of Rs 2 lakh crore," said Sitharaman.
As part of the presentation on Thursday, Sitharaman said that three crore farmers had availed loans that were given to them at concessional rates. Loans worth Rs 4 lakh crore were availed ever since the lockdown.
"Twenty five lakh new Kisan credit cards were sanctioned with a total loan limit of Rs 25,000 crore," she said.
Sixty three lakh loans amounting to Rs 86,600 crore were approved in agriculture between 1 March and 30 April, 2020.
"Refinancing of Rs 29,500 crore provided by NABARD to coeperative banks and regional rural banks in March 2020 was carried out. Support of Rs 4,200 crore provided under rural infrastructure development fund to states during March 2020 for rural infrastaructure," said Sitharaman.
Working capital limit of Rs 6,700 crore was sanctioned for procurement of agriculture produce to state government entities since March, 2020.
Amith Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, AgriBazaar welcomed the steps taken by the finance minister, saying the government has rightfully identified the agricultural sector as one of most impacted and added the Rs 2 lakh crore of loans will be a big relief to the sector.
“As India moves towards a new economic revival with the spirit of self-reliance infused by PM, the agricultural sector has to be rapidly modernised and digitalised to have a supply chain continuity going on the face of any future crisis,” he said.