Guwahati, December 20: In another development hailing benefit to the farmers, the Assam government has announced that it will make agricultural loan interest-free from the next financial year. In this perspective, the Sarbananda Sonowal led government slated three schemes Assam Farmers’ Credit Subsidy Scheme (AFCSS), Assam Farmers’ Interest Relief Scheme (AFIRS) and Assam Farmers’ Incentive Scheme (AFIS) for the welfare of farmers.
Speaking to the media, Assam Finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the state has 27 lakh agricultural households in 26,000 revenue villages and the AFCSS scheme would benefit 2.62 families of farmers.
Explaining the scheme, Sarma said, “Under AFCSS, whatever amount of loan the farmers took from banks and whatever amount they repaid, 25% of the money will be reimbursed by the state government. For example, a farmer availed of a loan of Rs.1 lakh and repaid Rs.50,000. If he repays another Rs.25,000, then the remaining Rs.25,000 will be paid by the state government. The upper cap of the government’s assistance will be Rs.25,000.”
The scheme was in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of 1894 farmers’ uprising of Patharughat in Assam in which 140 peasants were killed by the British. He further added that the scheme is for the period from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. This is a one-time scheme but it could be extended depending on its success. Explaining AFIRS, he said currently 3% of the 7% interest against farm loan is paid by the Central government and the remaining 4% is required to be paid by farmers.
“To give relief to the farmers, the state government has decided to pay the 4% loan which the farmers pay now. And if the Centre decides to withdraw its assistance, then the state government will pay the entire 7% interest against farm loan. The scheme, which will come into effect from April 1, 2019, will be a permanent feature. Initially, the state government will have to spend around Rs.200 crore to continue this,” Sarma said, adding farm loan in Assam usually does not exceed Rs.2 lakh.
Talking about the third scheme, the minister said through AFIC, the government was focused on bringing back the defaulting farmers into the banking system.
“There are an estimated three lakh farmers in Assam who defaulted on farm loans. Under this scheme, the government will give Rs.10,000 to a farmer to help him repay loan. Supposing he took a loan of Rs.50,000 from a bank but never repaid. The government will give him Rs.10,000 if he is willing to pay Rs.40,000 to repay the loan entirely. This scheme will cost the government around Rs.100 crore,” Sarma said.