Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Jul 01, 2004
Money & Banking
Agri-Biz & Commodities - Farm credit
Banks to draw up special farm credit scheme for Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram , June 30
THE commercial banks in Kerala will formulate a special agriculture credit plan before July 31 as part of the efforts to increase the flow of credit to the sector in the State.
A special meeting of the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC), chaired by the Chief Minister, Mr A.K. Antony, here on Wednesday decided that the credit to the farm sector would be increased by at least 40 per cent in the current year. Accordingly, the banks will disburse around Rs 6,300 crore for agricultural purposes during the year.
As for the special agriculture credit plan to be prepared, it was decided that the State Government would give necessary directions to the co-operative sector to fall in line.
All eligible farmers in the State will be issued Kisan credit cards to ensure easy access to credit facilities. Under the scheme, consumption loans up to Rs 15,000 will also be permitted. The Krishi Bhavans will prepare lists of farmers eligible for the credit cards and forward them to the banks.
The cardholders will be given personal accident insurance cover of up to Rs 50,000. Besides, more crops will be covered under the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme.
The meeting decided that all rural/semi urban bank branches would give investment loans to at least 100 new farmers each in 2004-05. This will result in around 2.86 lakh new farmers being given investment credit by the banks during the year.
This apart, every rural/semi urban bank branch will identify at least two investment projects for financing during the year. This will work out to more than 5,750 area-specific agricultural schemes that will be devised by the banks in consultation with the Agriculture Department and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard). Separate targets will be fixed for financing such projects.
The meeting decided for an immediate review of the scale of finances and unit costs of agriculture. The inter-district disparities in scales of finance will be corrected.
The banks will finance at least 10 agri-clinics in each district, which will be set up by agricultural or veterinary graduates. The clinics will be extended collateral-free loans of up to Rs 1.5 lakh each.
It was also decided that separate schemes for re-plantation of old tea/coffee estates would be devised by the banks in consultation with the Agriculture Department and Nabard. A scheme for re-opening the closed tea/coffee estates will also be finalised soon.
Another major decision pertains to the restructuring of the debts of needy farmers. This will cover farmers in distress, farmers in arrears and one-time settlement of dues of small and marginal farmers. Also, the banks will advance loans, against collateral or group security, to those farmers who are burdened with debt from non-institutional lenders.
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