Loan relief for farmers in desert, drought-prone areas

June 23rd, 2008 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The central government Monday announced a minimum loan relief of Rs.20,000 to farmers residing in desert and drought-prone areas spread over 237 districts across 18 states. Speaking at the 66th general council meeting of the National Cooperative Development Corporation, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said farmers from drought and desert-prone areas would get a minimum loan relief of Rs.20,000 even if they own land above two hectares.

The government earlier announced Rs.716 billion ($17 million) agricultural debt waiver and debt relief scheme for farmers. The scheme is expected to benefit around 43 million farmers having less than two hectares.

The government has also significantly raised minimum support price for various crops and announced a rehabilitation package of Rs.169.79 billion for 31 suicide-prone districts.

Pawar added that the government has decided to implement Professor Vaidyanathan Committee’s report on reviving the long-term cooperative credit structure. The cost of the package is estimated at Rs.30.74 billion, of which the central government’s share would be Rs.26.42 billion or 86 percent of the total budget.

“The country has achieved an all time record production in major crops like rice, wheat, maize, tur and cotton, and the agricultural growth rate is estimated at around 4.5 percent for 2007-08,” he said.

“The higher agricultural growth will push the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate to nine percent from the initial estimate of 8.7 percent,” he added.

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