1. Agriculture World

Farmers of This State will soon get Interest-Free Crop Loans

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
MVA

The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government announced that farmers would be able to get interest-free crop loans from this fiscal year. Farmers will be able to get crop credit up to Rs 3 lakh, with the state paying the interest on the loans, according to state finance minister Ajit Pawar, who announced this while presenting the state's budget for 2021-22 in the Assembly on Monday. He has launched a number of initiatives aimed at assisting farmers and improving agricultural facilities. Farmers would also profit from the budget, which has a 33 percent discount on electricity bills. According to Pawar, the state will waive rupees 30,411 crore in outstanding power bills under the plan.

“Paying the interest on crop loans is a common issue for farmers. The government has agreed to offer zero percent interest crop loans to farmers who take crop loans up to a cap of 3 lakh to relieve them from interest hardship,” Pawar said. As per the state's Economic Survey, farming is the only sector in Maharashtra that has grown during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pawar reported that the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), where farmers sell their produce, would be upgraded. “Most of the APMCs' infrastructure lack the basic amenities that farmers need. It is important to provide these services. The finance minister declared that a 2,000 crore fund will be launched to improve APMCs.

“It has been agreed to introduce a program to provide electricity to agriculture pumps of those farmers who have not yet been connected to the grid. It can be achieved by connecting the claimant farmers to either traditional or solar electricity. The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) will receive a share of capital of Rupees 1,500 crore per year from the state government to execute the scheme, he said.

Due to the economic downturn that had engulfed the state after months of lockout, the state was unable to enact two schemes proposed in the previous budget. This year, it has also reduced the amount of money set aside for agriculture and related operations.

Farmers who had paid their debts on time for the previous three fiscal years were entitled to get a monetary reward of up to rupees 50,000. It had also announced a 2 lakh rupees concession for one-time repayment of a crop loan. The finance minister explained that the plans have been placed on hold and will be initiated until the state's economy has recovered.

Ajit Nawale, general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha (AIKS), said that while the government must consider implementing the schemes announced in the previous budget and a request for a remission in power bills posed by farmers, they welcome the amount of schemes announced and the finance minister's focus on agriculture's role in economic development.

Pawar stated during his budget speech that the government plans to invest 1000 crore to introduce the "Maharashtra Agro Business Network Project (Magnet)" for marginal and small fruit and vegetable producers. It will run for six years with the aim of increasing farmer profits. When delivering the budget, the finance minister also expressed support for farmers' continuing protests against controversial farm laws.

It is important to concentrate on agricultural research in order to improve agribusiness production. Though the previous government had announced it, the MVA government will now provide four agricultural universities with a total of 600 crore over three years for research that will benefit agricultural growth, he added.

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