Debashish Gupta addresses the state-level bankers’ meeting in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Oct. 5: Farmers in six districts of Jharkhand have been hit hard by drought-like situations despite generous rainfall in the last leg of the monsoon season, prompting the government to urge bankers to assist in relief measures.
Paddy cultivation in the districts of Koderma, Chatra, Dumka, Deoghar, Giridih and Hazaribagh was 21 per cent below the state average until September.
Cultivation of cereals, too, was being carried out at barely 50 per cent of the available land space. In short, over 30 per cent of the total agricultural land in the six districts remain uncovered.
The agriculture department today made the revelations at a state-level bankers’ committee (SLBC) meeting.
The government had declared “early season drought” in the entire state on August 31. However, the rainfall deficit in Jharkhand stood at 14 per cent after four months of monsoon till September.
The government is expected to produce the final survey reports on the districts by October 15. The status reports of all the districts are likely to be finalised by the end of October and so that bankers can take relief measures, essentially subsidised loans, accordingly.
Bankers argued that it was difficult to take appropriate steps to bail out farmers in the absence of authentic and up-to-date data.
They also stressed the need to categorise various types of loans and questioned whether money lent to farmers for the purchase of tractors could be treated as agricultural loan.
SBI deputy general manager Pravina Kala pointed out that in order to secure tractor loans, one has to produce accurate landholding papers.
This implied that the person applying for tractor loan was not likely to be a marginal farmer. Further, tractors were also often used for various commercial purposes, she said.
However, development commissioner Debashish Gupta opined that tractor loans should be treated as agricultural loans in the current scenario.
“Whether loans are only meant for small and marginal farmers will be decided by political executives. They will do so at the politically correct moment. For the time being, let us presume that all of us are farmers,” he commented.