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Pawar reiterates commitment towards increasing crop production
Saturday, 25 July, 2009, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Agriculture and Food Minister, Sharad Pawar has reiterated government's commitment to increase crop production and improve farm incomes. Addressing the General Council of National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), the minister mentioned the steps announced in the Union Budget for 2009-2010. These include enhancement in the target for agriculture credit flow during 2009-2010 to Rs 3,25,000 crore as against Rs 2,87,000 crore during 2008-09, extension of time up to 31.12.09 for farmers having more than two hectares of land to pay 75% of their overdue under the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme 2008, continuation of Interest Subvention Scheme for short term crop loans to farmers for loans upto Rs 3 lakh per farmer at the interest rate of 7 % per annum, additional interest subvention of 1% as an incentive to those farmers who repay their short term crop loans on schedule and increase in the allocation for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

The minister also informed that a task force is proposed to be set up to study the problems of large number of farmers who had taken loans from private money lenders and were not covered under the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme announced in 2008 and suggest future course of action. These initiatives would facilitate a turn-around of our agricultural economy.

The minister also added that the government had constituted a "Committee on Financial Inclusion", under the chairmanship of Dr C Rangarajan, chairman, Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister. The committee, in its report, among others, has pointed out that more than 73% of farmer households have no access to formal sources of credit. Innovative institutional mechanism that provides credit and financial products to meet the needs of hitherto excluded members of the farm sector must be designed keeping in view their risk bearing ability.

The NCDC's General Council meeting held primarily discussed and approved the programme of activities of NCDC for the year 2009-2010 with a financial outlay of Rs 3,300 crore. NCDC for the year 2008-09 had stipulated a target of Rs 3000 crore. The National Cooperative Development Corporation during the year 2008-09 achieved its target and released an amount of Rs 3586.91 crore which is 119.56% of the approved outlay. The NCDC also surpassed its achievements of the last year as the financial assistance released during 2008-09 was higher than the year 2007-08. Further, net NPA's have been reduced to 6% of the outstanding loans and recovery was 99.7%.

For the 11th Plan period, a programme of Rs 19640 crore has been chalked out by NCDC for various cooperative development programmes in the country.
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