‘Karnataka government offers relief by waiving interest on overdue loans of district cooperative banks’


PTI, Feb 16, 2024, 1:55 PM IST

The Karnataka government has decided to waive interest on medium and long-term overdue loans of District Cooperative Central and Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development banks, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Friday, claiming that it would benefit more than 57,000 farmers.

Presenting the 2024-25 budget in the Assembly, he said an Agriculture Development Authority will be created under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister to facilitate effective implementation of policies related to agriculture and allied activities.

”Our government has decided to waive off interest on medium and long-term overdue loans of DCC and Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development (PICARD) banks. This will benefit more than 57,000 farmers. As a result of this scheme, the DCC/ PICARD banks will be able to recover loans to the tune of Rs.496 crore,” Siddaramaiah said.

He said the government will provide Rs 450 crore financial assistance by way of compensation to the banks under the scheme. ”This decision will bring about a considerable improvement in the financial condition of these banks,” the chief minister said.

Siddaramaiah said that in 2023-24 it was decided to extend the loan limit for interest-free short term loan from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and, similarly, the upper limit for medium and long-term loans, which are provided at a subsidised interest rate of 3 per cent, was raised from Rs 10 lakh to 15 lakh. In the current year, the targeted lending through the cooperative sector is Rs 27,000 crore, he said, adding that this would benefit more than 36 lakh farmers in the state. To encourage integrated agriculture, various schemes related to the agricultural sector will be consolidated and a new scheme called ‘Karnataka Raitha Samruddhi Yojane’ will be started from this year, the chief minister said. A new programme ”Namma Millet” will be started, under which processed millets and value-added millets will be made available at affordable prices, he added. To promote sustainable agriculture in drought-affected and rain-fed areas of the state and to aid soil and water conservation, 5,000 water bodies will be created over a period of five years, the chief minister said.

To promote processing, value addition and export of agricultural and horticultural produce, food parks will be established near airports under Public-Private Partnership, Siddaramaiah said. In the current year, these food parks will be established at Sogane in Shivamogga district, Ittangihala in Vijayapura District and Pujenahalli village in Bengaluru rural district, he informed in the Assembly. ”Kisan Malls” will be opened in select districts to provide farmers with horticulture related technical guidance, market connectivity, farm implements and agro products under one roof, he said.

Floriculture is practised in 40,000 hectares of land in the State, Siddaramaiah said. To promote sales and exports of floricultural crops, a well-equipped commercial floriculture market of international standards will be set up in Bengaluru city under Public-Private Partnership, he added.

A ”Spice Park” will be developed in Chikkamagaluru district under public-private partnership to encourage spice growing farmers and promote export of spices, he added. To encourage dairy farming among women, six per cent interest subsidy will be provided on the condition of timely repayment of the loan availed for buying cow/ buffalo, the chief minister announced. For the prevention of atrocities on nomadic shepherds and their properties, an Act will be enacted, he said.

The government also plans to invest Rs 3,000 crore in the coming years for all-round development of the fisheries sector, Siddaramaiah said.

For emergency evacuation of fishermen in the event of health emergencies and accidents, the State’s first sea ambulance will be introduced at a cost of Rs seven crore, the chief minister said.

The government appreciates the Central Government’s decision to recognise the contribution of M S Swaminathan in the field of agriculture by awarding him with the Bharat Ratna title, he said. ”In the same spirit, we will request the Central Government to calculate MSP based on the formula of cost of cultivation plus 50 per cent profit as recommended by the Swaminathan Committee.”

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