Published On : Sat, Jul 8th, 2017

Farmers stop repaying loans, banks unable to disburse fresh ones!

Nagpur: The announcement of loan waiver has triggered fresh problem for the banks. Hoping for the loan waiver the farmers have stopped paying loans, whereas majority of them does not fulfill the eligibility criteria. This has also barred them from availing fresh loans.

Banks have reportedly met only 27% of the targets set for disbursing crop loans, even as it’s the middle of Kharif season. Unless the old dues are cleared, new loans cannot be availed. Once the state government starts implementing the waiver scheme, the numbers may increase as farmers would be able to start with a clean slate. Figures accessed from the department of agriculture shows that at present, sowing has also come down due to erratic rainfall.

Experts said some farmers are still able to continue with sowing operations using the funds which were otherwise set aside to repay loans.

Till June end, 13.67 lakh farmers have got loans to the tune of Rs10,000 crore. During the same period last year, the amount lent was double, achieving 55% of the target.

In Marathwada, a region which has seen worse crisis than Vidarbha, only 12% of the target has been covered. Only 53,000 farmers have got Rs990 crore loans so far in the region.

Vidarbha fares better with 26% of the target covered. The paddy growing districts in eastern Vidarbha too have recorded higher disbursal. Among the state’s districts, the highest achievement against target is in Bhandara, at 51%. It is followed by Gondia and Chandrapur at 49% and 48% respectively, says the data obtained from the state-level-bankers committee (SLBC), which monitors crop loan lending by all banks.

Last year, 82% of the target was met by banks at end of the season. Even as there have been years when 100% was achieved, any disbursal above 80% is considered fair enough, said banking industry sources.

Bankers admit that it’s already middle of the Kharif season and not even a quarter of the target has been met. It’s not poor demand from the farmers for funds, but a large section of them do not qualify for the loan this year, they said.

Kishore Tiwari of Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Misson (VNSSM) said farmers’ hopes of loan waiver were bolstered after the UP government came up with the decision. Soon, protests spread in Maharasthra as well, and farmers in the cotton and soybean growing areas preferred not to repay loans.

“On the other hand, paddy growing eastern Vidarbha has reported prompter repayment. The harvest cycle is shorter in the crop. Majority of paddy growers had repaid their loans even before the clamour for waiver began. This is reflected in the current disbursal figures for districts of Chandrapur, Gondia and Bhandara,” he said.
Tiwari said it is a typical year and even private lenders are not too keen to provide loans to farmers. The predictions and actual rains have not matched.

Vijay Jawandhia, a veteran Shetkari Sanghathna activist from Wardha, said there is hardly any rush in banks this year. “Last year, when the state government had restructured loans due to drought, a number of farmers had turned up to get fresh credit. However, sowing continues at normal speed. It is probably because farmers are using the money left for repayment in buying inputs for the current season,” he said.

According figures sourced by the department of agriculture, sowing has taken place in 68% of the cultivable land in Amravati division. It was 81% during the same period last year. In Nagpur division, it is 21% but it is normal considering the cycle for paddy, sources said.