Focus on small, marginal farmers: Odisha Minister to banks

Minister unhappy with banks for apathy towards farm sector
Image used for representational purpose (File photo| EPS)
Image used for representational purpose (File photo| EPS)

BHUBANESWAR:  As the banking sector failed to meet priority sector lending target, specifically in agriculture and allied sectors, the State Government on Wednesday asked commercial banks to achieve their annual credit plan for doubling income of the farmers. Addressing a special session of bankers on the second day of ‘Krushi Odisha - 2020’ with the theme ‘leading farmers to profitability’, Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment Minister Arun Sahoo expressed displeasure over the apathy of banks to the farm sector which provides employment to nearly 70 per cent of the population.

While agriculture contributes around 18 pc to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), the sector needs special attention from banks as about 80 pc of the total workforce are small and marginal farmers. Even as the Reserve Bank of India has stipulated that 18 pc of the total annual credit plan should go to agriculture and allied sectors, commercial banks are not meeting the target.

Calling for a change in the mindset of bankers while dealing with farmers and farm sector, the Minister said Odisha is far behind other States like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal with regard to farm sector lending by commercial banks. Against a target of Rs 38,267.76 crore in the annual credit plan for agriculture and allied sectors in 2019-20, the achievement was Rs 14,422.2 crore which is 37.69 pc. The cooperative credit structures of the State meet more than 65 pc of the short term credit need of farmers, the Minister added.

The State Government had lined up Rs 7,500 crore farm credit for Kharif 2019 while Rabi target was Rs 6,500 crore. Though there has been a consistent increase in crop loan disbursed to farmers in the State, this has not been reaching the real farmers, particularly sharecroppers and other agricultural workers. 

Emphasising on extending short term credit facility to self-help groups (SHGs), including women groups, tenant farmers and oral lessees, the Minister advised officers of Agriculture department to work in close coordination with the bankers to ensure timely credit to farmers and realise the goal of doubling farmers income.

Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Secretary R Raghu Prasad said the State Government is providing maximum subsidy to farmers under Mukhyamantri Krushi Udyoga Yojana. The farmers will get the subsidy benefit of various schemes if the banks provide them timely credit, he added.

Credit plan 
Agriculture contributes 18 pc to GSDP but fails to get special attention of banks
RBI stipulates 18 pc of total annual credit plan should go to agriculture and allied sectors
Commercial banks not meeting the target
Target achieved in annual credit plan for agriculture and allied sectors in 2019-20 was merely 37.69 pc
Cooperative credit structures meet more than 65 pc of short term credit need of farmers

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