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July 1, 2006

Govt. to launch special rehabilitation package to mitigate the distress of farmers in 31 districts in 4 states

A large number of farmers committing suicide in certain parts of the country has been a matter of serious concern for the Government. The Government has identified 31 districts in the four states of Andhra Pradesh (16) Maharashtra(6) Karnataka(6) and Kerala (3) where the incidence of farmers suicides has been very high. The Government of India has decided to launch a special rehabilitation package to mitigate the distress of farmers in these 31 districts. The package will be implemented over a period of 3 years and includes both immediate and medium term measures. The rehabilitation package aims at establishing a sustainable and viable farming and livelihood support system through debt relief to farmers, improved supply of institutional credit, crop centric approach to agriculture, assured irrigation facilities, watershed management, better extension and farming support services, improved marketing facilities and subsidiary income opportunities through horticulture, livestock, dairying, fisheries etc. For alleviating the hardships caused to debt stressed families of farmers in the affected districts, ex-gratia assistance from Prime Ministers National Relief Fund will also be provided. The salient features of the package in respect of Maharashtra, covering the six districts of Wardha, Yevatmal, Amraavati, Akola, Buldana and Washim in Vidarbha region are indicated below.

(1) Ex-gratia assistance from PMNRF

With a view to alleviate the sufferings of debt stressed families of farmers in the six affected districts of Vidarbha in Maharashtra, a sum of Rs 50 Lakhs each which would be placed at the disposal of respective District Collectors.

(2) Debt Relief to Farmers

A comprehensive debt relief package for farmers was announced on June 18,2004. The debt relief package will be liberalized further to provide relief to the farmers in the identified districts. It is estimated that around Rs 1296 crore of overdue loan amount as on June 30 2006 in the identified districts of Vidarbha in Maharashtra will be restructured/rescheduled under the debt relief package for farmers in distress or farmers in arrears. Debt relief will be provided to the farmers and they will become eligible for fresh loan under the package. Detailed guidelines to operationlise the special debt relief package will be issued by RBI/NABARD.

(3) Credit Flow

The potential credit flow for the year 2006-07 for identified six districts of Vidarbha in Maharashtra is estimated at Rs 1275 crore. Special teams comprising NABARD and the Lead Banks are being deputed to ensure that the distressed farmers accounts are restructured/rescheduled in a time bound manner and fresh credit starts flowing.

(4) Interest Waiver

The over due interest on agricultural loans for the six affected districts of Vidarbha in Maharashtra amounting to around Rs 712 crores as on June 30,2006 will be waived. The burden of waiver will be shared equally between the Central and state government

(5) Assured Irrigation facilities

In the identified six districts of Maharashtra 1.59 lakh hectare will be brought under assured irrigation facilities at a cost of Rs 2177 crore over a period of three years through completion of all major medium, minor irrigation projects. Assistance for this will be provided under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) and Rural Infrastructure Development Fund(RIDF)

(6) Seed Replacement and Cropping Intensity

Quality seed replacement is a critical input for production and productivity. In order to provide immediate assistance to farmers a massive seed replacement programme will be launched with 50% subsidy in the identified six districts of Vidarbha in Maharashtra. The entitlement for quality seed is being increased from half acre per farmer to one hectare per farmer. Programme expected to cost Rs180 crore over a period of three years.

(7) Watershed Development

On an average 500 check dams every year at an average cost of Rs 2 lakh per check dam will be constructed in six districts over the next three years. This programme will cost Rs 60 crore per year. In addition, 15,000 hectare per district will be treated under watershed development programme for which grant support of Rs 60 lakh per water shed of 1000 hectare area each, entailing an outlay of Rs 54 crore will be provided. Rainwater harvesting scheme aiming at accelerated growth of irrigation potential for ensuring agricultural development of SC/ST beneficiaries including small and marginal farmers will be provided 50% back ended capital subsidy along with 50% bank loan, covering 1000 beneficiaries a year in each of the identified district.

(8) Horticulture Development

Presently 5 out of 6 identified districts are covered under the National Horticulture Mission. The remaining one district i.e. Buldana will also be covered under the mission during the current year. A technology mission on citrus for addressing the problems of citrus production, protection, post harvest technology and processing will be mounted under the supervision of National Research Centre on citrus-Nagpur.

(9) Micro Irrigation

All the six districts are covered under the scheme of micro irrigation. The programme will be intensified to cover 17800 hectare under drip and sprinkler irrigation involving an investment of Rs 26 crore per year. In all, 53400 hectares in all six districts will be brought under sprinkler and drip irrigation

(10) Extension Services

Effective and efficient extension service mechanism will be put in place in the identified districts for empowering the farmers. Agriculture technology management agencies (ATMA) will be operationalised in all the districts to ensure extension support and convergence at district level.

(11) Subsidiary Income

The component relating to livestock and fisheries will involve

- Induction of 1000 High Yielding Milch Animals per district with 50 % subsidy (balance bank credit)

- Induction of 500 female calves per district per providing 50% of rearing cost

- Supply of fodder blocks for feeding inducted animals with 25% subsidy

- Establishment of four-fodder block making units with 50% subsidy balance bank credit)

- Provision of adequate health care to all animals

- Taking up massive A 1 programme and estrus synchronization of 70% breedable animals

- Establishment of 10 milk chilling plants

- Taking of fisheries in 100 hectares per district providing 40 % of capital and input cost, rest to be sourced through bank credit

- The package for livestock/fisheries/fodder bank will involve support of Rs135 crore

(12) Implementation Mechanism

State Level Committee for coordination and supervision, including representatives of the Government of India and the state government and

- Implementation through district level committee, PRIs

- Appropriate Institutional Structures and Special Purpose Cooperatives/Community based Organisations will be created at local level for delivery of the package and optimum utilization of resources in a time bound manner.