Outstanding loan amounts for farms have increased by 53% since 2015/16, says Center Rajya Sabha

No waiver implemented in the last six years and none under consideration: Treasury Secretary

No waiver implemented in the last six years and none under consideration: Treasury Secretary

Farmers’ debt has increased by 53% over the past six years, the Ministry of Finance told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

In 2020-21 outstanding farm loans to proposed commercial banks totaled more than £18.4 billion, compared to £12 billion in 2015-16, with the number of farmer accounts with such debt also increasing from 6 .9 billion to more than 10 crore.

The data, sourced from the RBI, was presented to the Rajya Sabha in a written response to a query from Indian Union Muslim League MP Abdul Wahab asking for details of farmers’ debts and loan waivers.

Minister of State Bhagwat Karad replied that the center had not implemented any loan waivers in the past six years, nor had any such proposal been considered. Instead, he listed various initiatives being taken to ease the debt burden, including interest-rate subsidy schemes, unsecured farm credit for small farmers, and income support and farm insurance schemes, noting that efforts were being made to bring farmers more into the fold of institutional credit to bring them to the mercy of informal credit.

Tallest in Maharashtra

RBI data shows that the growth in farmers’ debt burden is highest in Maharashtra, a whopping 116% increase in outstanding balances over the six-year period.

Also in absolute terms, farmers in Maharashtra owe the highest amount of ₹5.5 lakh crore in farm loans. Incidentally, the state also consistently has the highest number of farmer suicides as recorded by the National Crime Records Bureau.

Other states that have seen significant increases in farmers’ debt burdens are Odisha (76%), Tamil Nadu (68%), Andhra Pradesh (65%) and Gujarat (64%). Few states bucked the trend, with Karnataka posting a 37% drop and Punjab a modest 4.5% drop.

“The data clearly reveals the sad plight of farmers who are being crushed under the weight of skyrocketing debt,” commented Mr. Wahab on the response. “[The Prime Minister] has failed miserably on its promise to double farmers’ incomes by 2022 and instead doubled its debt by 2022,” the MP said, urging urgent relief measures and consideration of a loan waiver.

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