Notwithstanding the widespread monsoon rains, the progress of agricultural operations in the ongoing kharif season is much below the expected level across Telangana as the farming community is facing severe credit and cash crunch.
Taking the favourable weather conditions into consideration, which saw excess rainfall in 411 out of 568 rural mandals, and normal rain in another 101 mandals, the sown area so far should have been much higher than 11.96 lakh hectares out of 43.24 lakh ha planned for the season.
However, slow flow of institutional credit and scarcity of cash required to pay for inputs and other farm work related to sowing operations, is proving to be major hindrance.
By June 28 last year, sowing of major crops was completed on 12.67 lakh ha although there was delay from the government side in releasing the first tranche of funds for the third instalment of crop loan waiver.
Admitting that the pace of sowing operations is much below the expected level, a senior official of the Agriculture department said: Farmers are unable to purchase inputs like seed and fertilizer or to pay wages to farmhands due to lack of sufficient cash with banks.
Except for cotton, which is already sown on 8.02 lakh ha against 16.76 lakh ha planned, sowing of no other major major crop is matching the favourable conditions.
Cotton was sown only on 5.06 lakh ha by now last year. According to officials, sowing of blackgram and soyabean have also crossed 30% of the planned extent, but the extent of other major crops such as maize, redgram, greengram and jowar has been less than 30%.
Official sources stated that out of Rs. 23,851 crore credit planned to be disbursed as crop loans this season, about Rs. 9,200 crore has been sanctioned so far and State-level bank authorities are hopeful that another Rs. 10,000 crore could be sanctioned till July-end.
“The credit flow would have been slightly better if the District Cooperative Central Banks (DCCBs) had better liquidity as they are supposed to extend Rs. 2,117 crore this season. But, they are facing serious cash flow problem after demonetisation,” the officials explained.
Secretary (Agriculture) and Agriculture Production Commissioner C. Parthasarathi told The Hindu that the government has requested the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) to improve cash flow in rural areas and also not to collect the 4% interest on repayment of loans taken in the last season.
“We have also written to District Collectors and District Agriculture Officers to speak to the lead banks at their level to speed up sanction of crop loans as well as improve cash flow to give a push to agricultural operations,” he said.
Bankers urged not to collect the 4% interest on repayment of loans taken in the last season.
Agriculture Production Commissioner.