Special Correspondent

Repay loans promptly, Collector tells farmers

NAGAPATTINAM: Farmers in the district should use the loans to improve their standing in life, Collector M. Jayaraman said on Monday.

To ensure this, a study on how farmers have benefited from various loans over the years needs to be conducted, he said.

At a special crop loan mela organised by the Indian Overseas Bank, Mr. Jayaraman distributed crop loans worth Rs.2.16 crore to 471 farmers on Monday and announced that all new applications for loans would be acted upon immediately.

Citing a report, he said that only 51.33 per cent of the farmers in district pay back their loans compared to nearly 60 per cent in Thanjavur. While farmers were ready to blame bankers for many problems, they should step into their shoes and see that the loans were paid back.

The Chief Regional Manager of the Indian Overseas Bank (which is the lead bank in the district), R. Muthusamy, and the NABARD AGM K. Venugopal, assured farmers that banks were willing to give crop loans and communication gaps were causing doubts in farmers’ minds.

All banks (including co-operative banks) lent (all loans put together) Rs.431 crore in 2005-06, and this increased to Rs.537 crore (24 per cent increase) in 2006-07 and Rs.584 crore (8 per cent increase) in 2007-08. The projected lending for 2008-09 is Rs.613-crore (5 per cent increase).

Crop loans for farmers on the other hand went from Rs.294 crore in 2005-06 to Rs.341 crore in 2006-07 (16 per cent increase) to Rs.397 crore in 2007-08 (16.4 per cent increase) to Rs.408 crore (projected) in 2008-09 (2.77 per cent increase).

Another aspect of the crop loan mela was not lost on farmers, many of whom talked about the absence of rains in the district. The problems with power supply and the lack of sufficient water in the tail-end region have already been worrying most farmers.

However, the Collector said that such a mela showed that finance was not an obstacle for farmers to make their life better.

He said that adequate steps would be taken in other sectors to ensure that agriculture did not suffer.