Farmers in the Hadauti region of Rajasthan are in a fix over repayment of interest-free loans by March-end as they would harvest their crops in April.
“I am required to repay a loan of ₹30,000 before March 31 this year, but I cannot do it because I will harvest my wheat crop in the second week of April,” said Ramgopal Meena, a farmer who has two beeghas of agricultural land at Bijaynagar village in Bundi district.
This is the problem being faced by a large number of farmers in Kota who had taken kharif crop loans from cooperative banks last year.
According to rules, if the short-term crop loans are not repaid by March 31, then a 7% interest is applied on them.
Farmers are given interest-free crop loans up to ₹1.50 lakh for kharif season between March and August, and the last date of repayment is March 31. Loans for rabi crops are given between September and March, and the last date for repayment is June 30.
Most of the farmers have availed of loans for the kharif season, but they have invested a bulk of the amount in rabi crops. As their income from kharif produce is not enough to repay loans by March 31, farmers bank on rabi crops for repayment.
Of around 10 lakh hectares cropped area in Hadauti region during the rabi season, wheat was sown in over 5 lakh hectares, said Hadauti Kisan Union general secretary Dashrath Kumar. “The harvest of mustard, coriander and other rabi crops has started but farmers will get major share of their income when wheat will be harvested next month,” he said.
“Farmers can repay their short-term crop loan only after selling wheat, so the state government should extend the last date of kharif crop loan repayment to June 30.”
A Kota Central Cooperative Bank Limited (KCCBL) official said, “Crop loans worth ₹450 crore were given to around 60,000 farmers in the current financial year (2016-17) in Kota district; out of this, ₹325 crore was given to around 40,000 farmers as kharif crop loan through the Gram Sehkari Samiti.”
Asked about farmers’ difficulties in repaying kharif loans by March-end, KCCBL managing director Indra Singh said, “Only the state government or Apex Bank can decide on crop loan deadline extension.”
He added, “The last date for kharif crop loan repayment is March 31 and there is no change in it.”