BJP-Shinde govt will require Rs 10,000 crore to enforce incentive scheme for farmers

THE NEWLY-ELECTED BJP-Shinde alliance government will have to make provision for more than Rs 10,000 crore to implement the farm incentive scheme in Maharashtra. Under the scheme, farmers who have not defaulted on their crop loan payments will be eligible for a one-time special incentive of up to Rs 50,000.

Officials in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative Department said, “We estimate that at least Rs 10,000 crore will be required to implement the scheme. The scheme will cover 20 lakh farmers.”

scheme for farmers

Although the special incentive scheme was announced by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in 2020, it was not implemented due to financial constraints.

The Covid-19 pandemic coupled with lockdown compounded the financial crisis for the state and was cited as the main reason behind the MVA government’s inability to execute the decision. The scheme remained on paper for two and half years.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who took charge of the government on June 30, have decided to accord higher priority to the farm incentive scheme.

Shinde said, “We are committed to accomplishing this scheme. And if required it will be made flexible to accommodate more farmers taking into consideration the natural calamities, which led to crop loss and delayed repayment.”

Both Shinde and Fadnavis have urged officials to present a status report on the scheme status. It will be followed by a decision in the Cabinet. Accordingly, a budgetary provision will be made within a set time frame.

The BJP-Shinde government believe that the promise made to the farmers cannot be withdrawn. In 2019, the MVA government decided to provide a one-time crop loan waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh to farmers. The scheme was called Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Karj Mukti Yojna. Through this scheme, the government incurred an expenditure of Rs 20,000 crore and it benefitted 32 lakh farmers. However, farmers who regularly repaid crop loans were upset with the move. There was a sense of resentment among them as they felt left out of the benefit due to their timely payments.

Following requests from elected members, the state government decided to give a one-time incentive of up to Rs 50,000 to farmers who regularly repaid their crop loans. The list of such farmers was smaller compared to the defaulter list.

However, despite the announcement the scheme remained on paper. Former deputy chief minister and finance minister Ajit Pawar revived the scheme during the budget presentation in 2022-23. He announced that farmers, who repaid loans within the deadline would be considered for a one-time reward of up to Rs 50,000.

Sources in the cooperative department said, “The stated objective of the scheme was two-fold. One to inculcate the discipline to make crop loan repayment among farmers. It was to convey a message that repayment of crop loans was important for both financial institutions and the agriculture sector. Secondly, it was to state that all those who were doing it would be rewarded.”

Of the 1.52 crore farmers in the state, more than 50 per cent depend on loans for farming.


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