Andhra farmers elated with loan waiver

March 1st, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

Hyderabad, March 1 (IANS) Many farmers in Andhra Pradesh feel relieved as Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s budget announcement of farm loan waiver will remove a “big burden” from their shoulders. “This announcement has brought happiness to us. This will remove a big burden,” said Kumarri Mallaiah, in Kalanpak village of Nalgonda district. He had taken a loan of Rs.30,000 three years ago and was worried over its repayment.

Though cultivating his own three acres of land, he was not making any profit due to the rising costs of inputs and lack of remunerative prices for the produce.

“I could not believe when I was told that the government has waived my bank loan. I don’t know how to express my happiness,” said A. Ramna, a small farmer in Rambilli village in Visakhapatnam district. Owner of two acres of land, he had taken a loan of Rs.20,000. Incurring huge losses every year, Ramna did not know how to repay.

“The waiver is a welcome move which will bring cheer to the farming community,” said P. Chengal Reddy, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Farmers’ Association. “This will provide a big relief to farmers reeling under huge debts.”

Farm indebtedness is very high in Andhra Pradesh, where the total crop area is about 6.6 million hectares. The state has about 14 million farmers and 80 percent of them are small and marginal farmers.

The loan waiver is expected to benefit 4.1 million small and marginal farmers who own up to five acres of land. This includes all those whose loans have been rescheduled by the state government till Dec 31, 2007. Another 1.5 million farmers are likely to go for one-time settlement.

However, Chidambaram’s sop will not bail out farmers who had taken loans from local moneylenders. About 49 percent small and marginal farmers in the state depend on moneylenders.

The indebtedness coupled with successive droughts in the state forced over 6,000 farmers to commit suicide during the last one decade. Though the state has been receiving good rains for last four years and the state government has also taken several measures like free electricity supply, the farm sector is still facing problems due to non-remunerative prices, rise in the cost of inputs, shortage of seeds and erratic electricity supply.

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