A central team is expected to visit Karnataka next week to assess the damage to agriculture and horticulture crops due to unseasonal rains.
This was decided at a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers chaired by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. The meeting decided to extend relief to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the two worst affected states due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm.
The memorandum from the Karnataka government was received just before the meeting of the EGoM was to begin on Wednesday.
Karnataka has reported loss of agriculture crops spread over 1.68 lakh hectares and 1529 hectares of horticulture crops across 13 districts of the state. These districts include Tumkur, Kolar, Mandya and Bangalore Rural.
In Maharashtra, over 17 lakh hectares of rabi crop spread across 28 districts has been damaged due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm. In Madhya Pradesh, crops covering more than 11 lakh hectares across 51 districts have been affected.
It is learnt that the Centre has asked immediate halt to the process of loan recovery from farmers who have suffered losses due to the natural calamity. It has also recommended restructuring of loans and extending some concessions to the affected farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
At present, farmers get loans at 9 per cent interest rate and the Centre is learnt to have decided to waive 2 per cent interest on farm loans for affected farmers and asked the state governments to at least match this.
Suggestions have also been made to the state governments to explore the possibility of taking a quick crop on the affected land by taking advantage of the increased moisture content of the soil. The Centre is also learnt to have given an assurance on extending input subsidy to farmers in this regard.
However, none of the decisions could be announced on Wednesday as the government would have to seek the permission of the poll panel before declaring any relief package.