Economic Survey: State falls short of farm credit target

Only 45.3% disbursed towards agriculture and allied activities under priority sector lending; farmers’ inability to repay previous dues thought to be key reason for dip

The State disbursed only 45.3% of the priority sector lending target set for agriculture and allied activities under the annual credit plan this year, the State Economic Survey for 2019-20 has said. The report was presented in the State legislature on Thursday.

The annual credit plan is prepared and monitored by Bank of Maharashtra, the convener bank of the State level bankers’ committee. Of the total plan size of ₹4.24 lakh crore for 2019-20, the share of agriculture and allied activities is 20.6%.

However, data up to September 2019, by when credit disbursement for both kharif and rabi seasons is largely completed, shows that only ₹39,600 crore of the ₹87,300 crore target was disbursed. Besides, the number of beneficiaries fell from 53.14 lakh in 2018-19 to 35.03 lakh.

The dip has largely been attributed to farmers’ inability to repay previous loans due to drought, making them ineligible for fresh ones.

For kharif crops, the survey has predicted that area under pulses, oilseeds and sugar cane is expected to decrease, while area under cereals and cotton is expected to increase compared to 2018. Even as area under foodgrain has decreased by 3%, the total production may see a rise of 8%. Sugar cane, an important crop in Maharashtra both politically and financially, may see a 36% decrease in production.

In case of rabi crops, area under pulses is expected to go up, while that under cereals and oilseeds is likely to shrink. Area under fruits and vegetables has decreased by 1.4% and 2.9% respectively.

While the report says irrigation potential was utilised on 35.97 lakh hectare in 2018-19, it did not divulge the percentage of gross irrigated area to gross cropped area for the eighth consecutive year. The parameter became a point of controversy in 2009-10, when the report showed a 0.1% growth followed by allegations of an irrigation scam involving Nationalist Congress Party leaders. Since then, no government has revealed the figure, including the one led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which had made allegations about the scam.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 5:27:00 PM |

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