BHUBANESWAR: The State Government is reported to be considering a proposal to convert crop loan of farmers who have not utilised it for agriculture purposes to commercial loan.According to sources, 19 lakh farmers had availed crop loan in the last kharif season but only 8.47 lakh of them had sold paddy through Government agencies in the procurement process. The issue was discussed at a video conference meeting presided by Food, Consumer Welfare and Cooperation Minister Surya Narayan Patro here on Friday.
The State Government advances crop loan at one per cent interest and there is a proposal to convert the interest rate to 12 per cent because of the discrepancies. Sources, however, maintained that not all of more than 10 lakh farmers who had availed crop loans and not utilised it for farming have spent it otherwise. These include many farmers who have sold their produce outside the State and many others may not have surplus produce to sell.
The paddy procurement process had covered 295 blocks in the last kharif season and 54.27 lakh tonne of paddy was procured. The cost of paddy procured was `7,977 crore. Crop loan to the tune of `3,100 crore was disbursed to farmers for kharif crops through the cooperative credit structures. The quantum of loan extended by commercial banks operating in the State is not available with the Government.
Around 70 per cent of the total crop loan in the State is given through the cooperative sector. The Odisha State Cooperative Bank disburses the loan through 2,700 Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) working under 17 District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs). In 2016-17, `15,534.23 crore crop loan were disbursed in the State out of which `10,203 crore were provided by cooperative banks.
However, the opposition Congress has come down heavily on the Government for its decision. The decision of the Cooperation Department is likely to have adverse impact on the ongoing registration drive for paddy procurement as only 5.32 lakh farmers have registered by September 13 against 6.10 lakh farmers who registered during the same time last year.