Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik announces Rs 100 billion-scheme for farmers

Naveen Patnaik
Coming under mounting demands for farm loan waivers, chief minister Naveen Patnaik unveiled a Rs 100 billion scheme for farmers titled Krushak Assistance for Livelihoods & Income Augmentation (KALIA). The scheme to benefit both farmers and share croppers was approved at a meeting of the Agriculture Cabinet. The scheme envisages Rs 101.8 billion expenditure over three years till 2020-21.

The latest scheme for the distressed farm sector is made up by five components- financial support for cultivation, livelihood support for landless households, financial assistance to vulnerable agriculture households and landless labourers, life insurance cover and exemption of interest for crop loans of up to Rs 50,000.

Under the KALIA scheme, all small and marginal farmers numbering around three million, will be covered. An assistance of Rs 10,000 will be provided per family for Kharif and Rabi seasons. Farmers will have autonomy to take up interventions as per their needs. The government believes this component will immensely profit sharecroppers with very small parcels of land. The assistance is meant for five cropping seasons spanning three years from 2018-19 to 2021-22.

While most of the agriculture centric schemes ignore landless agriculture households, KALIA has provisions for backing one million landless households with a unit cost of Rs 12,500 to take up activities like small goat rearing units, mini layer units, duckery units fishery kits for fishermen & women, mushroom cultivation and bee keeping. Landless households will have the option to chose any of these units. This component envisages utilisation of Rs 12.5 billion in three years.

In cases where the farmers are not able to take up agriculture and landless labourers unable to avail livelihood options, an annual financial assistance of Rs 10,000 will be provided for their sustenance. The deserving families will be identified and selected by the concerned gram panchayats. About one million households are expected to be brought under the ambit at a cost of Rs 10 billion.

KALIA scheme also has a life insurance cover of Rs 200,000 with an additional personal accident cover of the same amount for both cultivators and landless agricultural labourers. The life cover will be applicable to 5.7 million households.

Besides, the scheme offers interest free crop loans of up to Rs 50,000. Odisha has 3.2 million cultivators of which two million have availed crop loans. Among the loanee farmers, 60 per cent have regularly repaid the loans. KALIA scheme covers 92 per cent of the cultivators and almost all landless agricultural labourers.

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