Odisha to provide Rs 1,040 cr credit to 7 lakh landless farmers

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PTI

Bhubaneswar

The Odisha government has launched a scheme ‘Balaram’ to provide agricultural credit of Rs 1,040 crore to landless farmers who are facing hardships due to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said on Friday.

Around seven lakh landless cultivators will be benefited from the programme in the next two years, they said.

The decision in this regard was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by chief secretary A K Tripathy on Thursday.

The landless farmers, who were not able to avail farm credit earlier, will get loans through joint liability groups which will act as ‘social collateral’, agriculture and farmers empowerment department secretary Sourabh Garg said.

The scheme was designed in collaboration with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), he said, adding that the village agriculture workers will implement the programme at the field level.

The chief secretary also directed officials to work out an appropriate institutional mechanism for coordination and monitoring at different
levels.

“Extending credit to the cultivators will be a firm step towards enhancing productivity in the agricultural sector,” he
said.

State finance secretary A K Meena asked officials to mobilise the banking sector through the State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) for extending credit support to the landless farmers and sharecroppers who do not get loans due to lack of resources.

Two state-run organisations – the Institute on Management of Agricultural Extension and the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) – will be the nodal agencies at the state and district levels respectively for implementation of the scheme.

“It was also decided to incentivise ‘Krushak Sathis’ and village agriculture workers through the ATMA for the formation of JLGs, linking them to the banks, mobilising credit disbursal and facilitating repayment of the loans,” Garg said.

Each lender will finance at least 10 JLGs in a year, he said, adding that there are around 7,000 branches of different banks and the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) in rural and semi-urban areas.

“Each JLG will have five members and one group will get Rs 1.6 lakh. The target is to cover around seven lakh landless cultivators through 1.40 lakh JLGs within two years,” he said.

The credit would be available as a normal crop loan, he said.

“This scheme is the first of its kind in the country. Through this programme, the field-level agricultural workers will get a credit of around Rs 1, 040 crore,” NABARD general manager A Chandra Sekhar said.