Rajasthan offers loan of Rs 1 lakh for farmers

As possible monsoon failure looms large, 26 million farmers in Rajasthan have unexpected help at hand. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot has announced a far-reaching scheme that entitles them a loan of up to Rs 1 lakh, interest-free. 

Nearly Rs 1,800 crore of additional allocation has already been made for this scheme.

“This scheme will specifically benefit small farmers and free them from the clutches of moneylenders who charge high interest rates. The money can be used to buy fertilizers, seeds, pesticide and diesel needed to raise crops,” a senior official said.

“What makes the scheme even more attractive and unique is that farmers who repay the loan by the due date will not have to pay interest. This kind of scheme, perhaps, is being implemented for the first time in the country,” the official added.

Met department suggests rain deficiency or deficit has been 63 per cent below normal in west Rajasthan and 35 per cent in the eastern parts. As a result, sowing for the ongoing kharif season has shrunk by half in Rajasthan.

Officials said the loan will be made available for both the kharif and rabi crop seasons through gram sewa cooperative societies. There are over 5,000 such societies in Rajathan and all of them are linked to the loan scheme.

In the beginning of the year, Gehlot had allowed Rs 8,000 crore worth of cooperative loans. This has been hiked to Rs 9,431 crore so that more farmers benefit from the interest-free loan scheme.

The CM has also decided to release Rs 300 crore from the primary cooperative land development banks for disbursal as cooperative crop loans so that there is no shortfall of funds.

The state has also written to the Central requesting that the mandatory work days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme be enhanced to 200 days from 100 during crisis periods. 

“Farmers no longer face problems in getting compensation. The crop insurance scheme’s scope has been widened and procedures have been simplified,” an official said. Another official explained that when the Congress took power three-and-a-half year ago, a landmark decision was taken by the CM Gehlot not to hike electricity tariff for crops for five years.

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