THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the wake of back-to-back farmer suicides across Kerala, the state government has come up with a slew of relief measures for farmers, especially those from Idukki and Wayanad districts, who are the worst-affected in the mid-August floods.
The state cabinet which met here on Tuesday announced a number of steps including extending the moratorium on loan recovery till December 31.
In a major move to address the crisis-ridden farmers, the government declared moratorium for all loans taken by farmers - both agricultural and non-agricultural loans - from public sector, commercial and cooperative banks. Express has earlier reported about the move to treat all farmers' loans on par with agricultural loans.
The government has directed the Farmers' Debt Relief Commission to extend debt relief measures to farmers from Idukki and Wayanad districts for loans taken till the end of 2018 August, the month when the state witnessed one of the worst floods in its history. In other districts farmers will get debt relief for loans taken till March 31, 2014.
Immediate relief of Rs 85 crore - including Rs 54 crore from the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund - has been sanctioned to provide compensation to farmers who suffered crop loss due to natural calamities. In another major step, the government has decided to provide up to 9 pc of the interest for new loans taken for long-term crops.
"The government has already taken a number of steps for farmers including the special packages for Idukki, Wayanad and Kuttanad. Also steps have been taken to bring out value added agri products. The new urgent relief measures are taken considering the crisis in the sector," said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
To questions, Pinarayi said the government will provide solatium to the families of farmers who took the extreme step. No decision has been taken to provide relief to farmers who have taken loan from private financiers, said agriculture minister VS Sunil Kumar.
- Moratorium on agri loans taken from public sector, commercial and cooperative banks extended till December 31, 2019. Moratorium made applicable for all loans taken by farmers.
- As of now the Farmers' Debt Relief Commission has been providing debt relief for agri loans taken till March 31, 2014 in Wayanad. In other districts relief given to agri loans taken till October 31, 2011. Revising the same, the cabinet directed the Debt Relief Commission to extend debt relief to farmers from Idukki and Wayanad for loans taken till August 31, 2018. Farmers in other districts will get debt relief for loans taken till March 31, 2014.
- The upper limit for debt relief for loans has been increased from Rs 1 lakh to 2 lakh. Currently the Debt Relief Commission provides 50 pc of repayment amount for arrears above 50,000 and upto Rs one lakh.
- The government to provide up to 9 pc of interest on new loans for long-term crops, from the CMDRF. The interest will be paid for one year from the date of taking loan.
- Currently loans taken from cooperative banks get benefits from the Debt Relief Commission. The government has entrusted Agriculture and Planning Departments to check whether loans from commercial and public sector banks can also brought under the purview of Commission.
- Rs 85 crore including Rs 54 crore from CMDRF to be sanctioned as urgent compensation for crop loss due to natural calamities.
- Compensation given for crop loss - currently given as per the 2015 government order - has been doubled. For yielding areca nut tree the compensation has been increased to Rs 300 from 150 while for coffee it will be Rs 200 from 100, and for pepper Rs 150 from 75. Compensation for cardamom has been hiked to Rs 25000 per Ha from Rs 18000.