Loan waiver fails to satisfy Kerala farmers

March 1st, 2008 - 9:54 pm ICT by admin  


Kozhikode, March 1 (IANS) The farmers of Wayanad, which is in the grip of an agrarian crisis, feel that the waiver of agricultural loans announced in the union budget alone will not provide the needed relief to the farmers. They say that if the government is to waive only agricultural loans it will not have any great impact on the farm sector as only a waiver of all types of loans taken by the farmers would help them.

“There is a difference between farm loans and other loans taken by the farmers. If the finance minister is going to waive only the farm loans it won’t be of any significant benefit,” says M.P. Anirudhan, leader of the drought-hit farmers’ agitation council of Mullankolli panchayat in Wayanad.

“Cooperative banks here give farm loans only to the extent of Rs.25,000 while in case of scheduled banks it is Rs.50,000,” he said.

“I have a Rs.80,000 loan from Canara Bank. Out of the total amount, only Rs.50,000 comes under farm loan and enjoys lower interest rates. The bank is charging a higher interest rate for the other Rs.30,000,” Anirudhan told IANS.

Wayanad has reported many farmer suicides during the last decade. According to official statistics, from 1999 to 2006 the district reported 371 suicides. Failure of crops, especially pepper, led to the crisis in the district. Wayanad accounts for around 22 percent of the pepper produced in the country.

“In Mullankolli panchayat, more than 100 farmers committed suicide in the last five years,” Anirudhan said.

“The loan waiver announced by the government is a great relief to farmers. It will be an achievement if the government waives all the loans by June as announced in the budget. However, the farmers who repaid the loan will definitely feel cheated,” he added.

President of Farmers’ Relief Forum (FRF) A.C. Varkey said: “It’s true that loan waiver is a big relief to farmers. However, it will become effective in providing relief only if the waiver is made applicable to farmers with 10 to 15 acres of land.”

“There are many who sold their land to repay the loan. The government should also make arrangement to refund this amount,” Varkey told IANS.

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