BHUBANESWAR: THE Odisha Government on Wednesday announced a drought assistance package for 15 districts where farmers, who have sustained crop loss above 33 per cent, will be provided agriculture input subsidy.As per the package, small and marginal farmers will be entitled to input subsidy at the rate of Rs 6,800 per hectare in rain-fed and non-irrigated areas and in areas under assured irrigation, it will be Rs 13,500 per hectare.
Medium and big farmers will also get the subsidy at the same rate but subject to a ceiling of two hectares per farmer. The assistance shall be provided to actual cultivators.
Crop loss of 33 pc and above has been recorded in 3.17 lakh hectare in 6,015 villages of 70 blocks of 15 districts. The total input subsidy could work out to about Rs 220 crore. A similar package was announced by the Government in 2015 too.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also announced fresh finance for Rabi cultivation apart from conversion of short term kharif loans to long term. The Government said due date of kharif short term loans will be extended upto September 30, next year to facilitate conversion of loans into medium term.
The State will request the Centre to provide interest incentive of three per cent for medium term loans. The package also includes a 50 pc remission in cess on land revenue for farmers where the crop loss is more than 33 pc. Collection of the rest of the levy will be deferred to next financial year without any interest.
Similarly, collection of water tax in drought-hit villages will be waived for the current year. Tuition and examination fees in government and aided schools and colleges of drought affected areas will be exempted.
All the districts have been asked to keep a close watch on money lenders and middlemen exploiting farmers while police has been asked to initiate tough action against such elements under the Odisha Money Lenders Act. The SPs have been directed to proactively deal with the matter while DIGs will review the matter.
Naveen said, the State Government will provide 50 days of additional work in drought affected areas under the MGNREGA. Panchayati Raj Department has been asked to take up MGNREGA works to establish water harvesting structures, de-silting of field channels and diversion weirs.
“Government will continue to work in a dedicated manner to mitigate the difficulties experienced by the farmers in the drought affected areas,” the CM said.
Besides, as many as 1.25 lakh mini-kits of pulses, 0.5 lakh oilseed mini-kits and 0.25 lakh vegetable mini-kits will be supplied to farmers for Rabi programme in affected villages.
Similarly, about 5000 pump sets shall be provided with 50 per cent subsidy limited to Rs 15,000 to the farmers.Landless, marginal and small farmers in the drought affected GPs of 70 blocks will be provided livelihood support in terms of backyard poultry.