Odisha announces drought package for farmers

Bhubaneswar, Oct 14 (IANS) Following the alleged suicide of farmers due to crop loss, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday announced drought assistance to the farmers facing crop loss of 33 percent and above.

“Agriculture input subsidy will be provided to the small and marginal farmers who have sustained crop loss of 33 percent and above at Rs.6,800 per hectare of land in rainfed/non-irrigated areas and Rs.13,500 per hectare of land in areas under assured irrigation,” Patnaik said.

He said that agriculture input subsidy will also be provided to farmers other than small and marginal farmers at the same rates subject to a ceiling of two hectare per farmer.

“For perennial crops the assistance shall be provided at Rs.18,000 per hectare. The assistance shall be provided to the actual cultivators,” the chief minister said.

He also announced that Rs.1,000 crore will be spent to mitigate the drought situation in the state.

Farmers affected by drought in the Kharif season will be provided fresh finance for Rabi cultivation during the current Rabi season and this could be to the tune of Rs.4,500 crore, he added.

Stating that the government is committed to protect the interests of farmers, he said short term Kharif loans will be converted to medium term loans in drought affected areas in cases of 50 percent and above crop damage.

“The rate of interest of short term loans will be applicable for converted medium term loans. This shall be done through interest subvention of Rs.227.38 crore over a period of three years for bringing down the interest rate to five percent for the crop loans availed by the farmers,” the chief minister said.

He also asked the district administration to keep a close watch on moneylenders and other unscrupulous elements causing financial hardship to the farmers, stating that police would initiate tough action against such elements under the Odisha Moneylenders Act.

Tuition fees and examination fees in government and aided schools and colleges in drought affected areas shall be waived.

Forty thousand pump sets shall be provided through Odisha Agro-Industries Corporation with 50 percent subsidy limited to Rs.15,000 to the farmers with priority to the rainfed areas.

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