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10   AgriTech indiA  november & december 2017                                                                                         News

         Forgetting loan waivers, States must                                                            Odisha govt. scrambles

         look at insurance, pricing mechanism                                                            to assess crop loss

          – Sanjay Kaul

              ising incidence of loan   This, in turn, has impacted
              waivers is indicative   agricultural activities of that
          Rof the fact that      region and gives way to
          agricultural credit is being   informal lending at usurious
          used as more of a political   rates.
          instrument rather than as   Loan waivers also
          a means to alleviate farm   lead to crowding-out of
          distress.              private borrowers as high                                                  he  Odisha  government   management,   agriculture
            For a country facing   government borrowing tend                                             Tasked    the   Collectors   and  farmers’  empowerment
          larger weather vagaries, one   to impose an increasing cost of                                 of  eight  districts  to  submit   departments.
          off compensation scheme   borrowing for others. The RBI                                        reports within two days on the
          like loan waivers is a highly   has also rung a warning bell                                   quantum  of  crop  loss  due  to   Detailed information
          unsustainable solution to farm   on large farm waivers causing         for farm produce along with   pest attacks, officials said.  The Collectors were asked
          distress and detrimental to   inflationary spill overs.                allowing greater freedom to   The  direction  was  issued   to  furnish  their  reports  along
          the economy’s resources. The   Additionally, indebtedness              the private sector can help   by  the  Revenue  and  Disaster   with   detailed   information
          mid-year economic survey has   is widely a problem more of             build a stable domestic price   Management   Department   about the area under crop loss
          warned against these waivers   small and marginal farmers.             regime without creating a   after  a  farmer  in  Bargarh   to the extent of 33% and above
          and estimated that if all States   Waivers, on the other hand,         large fiscal burden unlike   district  allegedly  committed   to the department within two
          start offering them, the total   often fail to make a distinction      an ad-hoc and poorly    suicide  for  crop  loss  due  to   days, an official said.
          burden could swell to Rs. 2.7   between those who need it              implemented minimum     pest attack.               Meanwhile,  the  Odisha
          lakh crore.            and those who do not, and   made more comprehensive   support price regime.  The   State   government   Human  Rights  Commission
            With several States facing   this inflates their burden as   and efficient through a well-  Through a well-designed   has  also  received  reports   has asked the District Collector
          elections in the coming few   well as the fiscal deficit of the   designed, farmer-friendly,   incentives and duties   from   Bargarh,   Sambalpur,   of  Bargarh  and  Secretaries
          months, more States are   States.              weather-based crop insurance   framework, private entities   Jharsuguda,  Rayagada  and   of  agriculture  and  revenue
                                                                                                                                 departments  to  submit  their
                                                                                                         Ganjam  districts  that  farmers
          likely to follow the league of   What, then, are the viable   scheme. Weather data is now   can engage in procurement   have set afire their fields after   reports on suicides by farmers
          Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh,   solutions for alleviating   available on account of the   from farmers under a set of   failing to save their crop from   within three weeks.
          Tamil Nadu and Punjab.  farmer distress?       large number of automatic   conditions to stabilise prices.   pests.       It issued the notice based on
            Economists, bankers     That the farm sector is   weather stations set up across   India’s agriculture exports   “The   government   is   a  petition  filed  by  Samajwadi
          and independent analysts   facing stress cannot be denied.   the country.  will also help boost farmer   prepared to provide assistance   Party  State  president  Rabi
          have strongly argued that   Solutions also need to have   Weather-based insurance   incomes.   to  the  affected  farmers  under   Behera  on  the  alleged  suicide
          writing off farm loans would   more than an element of   schemes are more cost-  In addition, governments   the  State  Disaster  Fund,”   by  a  farmer  from  Kalapani
          worsen the credit indiscipline   “political” acceptance and   effective and can provide   need to look beyond the   Agriculture Minister Damodar   village in Bargarh district.
          amongst farmers while   consensus among a large   immediate relief as against   agricultural incomes of the   Rout said.  On  the  allegation  of  fake
          draining the State exchequers.   majority of stakeholders.   a crop-based scheme as crop   farm community. China has   In a letter to the Collectors   pesticides  being  provided  to
          Apart from breeding the   Clearly, the long-term   yields take a long time to   increased its rural income   of   Bargarh,   Bolangir,   farmers, Agriculture Secretary
          problem of moral hazard   solution needs to focus on   assess.         through a lot of non-farm   Ganjam,  Kalahandi,  Koraput,   Sourav  Garg  said  that  teams
          amongst farmers, loan   agricultural risk mitigation,   While a few States   subsidiary activities.  Nuapada,   Sambalpur   and   have  been  engaged  to  verify
          waivers impact the lending   augmenting net farm incomes,   have an interest subvention   More autonomy to   Sonepur,  Additional  Relief   the pesticides available in the
          patterns of the banks as they   improving productivity and a   scheme, interest rates at the   credible private seed   Commissioner  Mihir  Chand   markets  of  Bargarh  district.
          become selective in their   stable price regime.  banks are at around 8-9 per   companies can also lead to   Mallick   asked   them   to   “Stringent action will be taken
          credit extension.         What can governments   cent which are high for the   quicker adoption of high   conduct joint field verification   if duplicate pesticides are sold
            In the past, banks   do when they face farmer   farm community. An across   yielding varieties to boost   through the field functionaries   to farmers,” he said.
          have shown a tendency to   agitations?         the board interest subvention   productivity.   of   revenue   and   disaster
          downsize credit operations   There, clearly, is no   scheme of subsidising interest   Thus, a shift in approach
          in districts with frequent   magic wand. However, the   rates by 2-3 per cent is more   of State governments from
          loan waivers. All such   following set of measures   sustainable than the ad hoc   ad-hoc pay outs to sustainable
          waivers — be it in 1990, 2008   will provide quick relief in   loan waivers.  and sound policies for
          or possibly 2017 too — were   situations of genuine farm   There are more cases of   stabilising farm incomes and
          followed by the farming   distress caused due to loss of   farm distress due to sharp fall   prices that can provide quick
          community suffering credit   crop or sharp fall in prices.   in prices rather than due to   relief is the need of the hour.
          crunch because of banks’   The current crop insurance   loss of crop.         The writer is MD & CEO,
          apprehensions of loan   scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal   A stable and well-  National Collateral Management
          recovery in the next season.   Bima Yojana, can be quickly   designed export-import policy   Services Ltd. Views are personal.

          Global Agri Connect- 2017

               ational Skills
               Foundation of
          NIndia (NSFI) held
          the sixth edition of Global
          Agri Connect co-organized
          by Department of Science
          & Technology and Indian
          Agricultural Research
          Institute (IARI) at Hotel Le
          Meredian, New Delhi on 12th
          October, 2017. The conference
          observed participation of
          more than 300 dignitaries
          from across the globe-
          Embassies, Bilateral and
          Multilateral agencies, Civil
          Society, Government and the
          Private Sector to discuss and
          deliberate upon “Technologies
          and Innovations in Climate   The inaugural session ended   resource-use efficiency
          Smart Agriculture (CSA):   with a vote of thanks from Dr.   in farming, solar energy
          Practice or Perish”. Sanjeev   Sai Krishna Nanduri, CEO,   solutions, participatory crop
          Asthana, Chaiman, National   National Skills Foundations   planning, zero budget and
          Skills Foundations of India   of India.        low external input sustainable
          welcomed the delegates    The focus of the     farming.
          followed by key-note   conference was to generate   In each session, the
          addresses from the Guests   ideas, stimulate reflections,   panelists picked up pertinent
          of Honour- Dr. Salil Singhal,   develop vision and chart out   questions that anchored
          Chairman Emeritus, PI   the course ahead in Climate   the discussions to narrow
          Industries; Dr. Ashok   Smart Agriculture while   down to concrete results,
          Dalwai, CEO, National   also touching upon the most   final or tentative.  The
          Rainfed Area Authority; Dr.   promising technologies in this   speakers tried to trace the
          Harsh Bhanwala, Chairman,   line. The delegates discussed   loose-ends and connect the
          NABARD. The Inaugural   and deliberated on innovations  dots in order to streamline
          address by the Chief Guest   in both technologies and   the dialogues towards
          Smt. Krishna Raj, Minister   strategies for mitigating,   conclusive points for action.
          of State for Agriculture,   adaptation and enhancing   The key recommendation
          GoI set the backdrop of the   resilience to Climate Change.   of the conference was to
          conference underlining the   The conference stressed   attract investment, support
          fact that “Climate Change”   upon continuously keep   innovations, validate and
          poses a “serious challenge”   on improving the research,   disseminate technologies and
          to agriculture growth for   practice and policy in   boost formal collaborations
          which the Government has   production, post-harvest   among the value chains
          been “combining the best   management and marketing.   to sustain agriculture
          practices in traditional and   The participants brought   development against the
          modern farming for doubling   up even cross-cutting &   onslaught of Climate Change.
          farmers’ income by 2022”.   sociological issues like
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