As the coronavirus pandemic takes a major toll on people’s livelihood opportunities in India and millions are slipping further into the dark chambers of poverty and indignity, the government of Odisha has com up with an innovative and timely plan to mobilise and empower those in the agricultural sector.
The government has come up with a scheme that will give agricultural credit to landless farmers across the state. This is an important scheme to reckon with, because it is a first of a kind scheme that is specifically designed and targeted to the landless farmers.
The scheme has been named ‘Balaram’. The Balaram Scheme has been introduced by the Naveen Patnaik government and was announced on Thursday. Under the scheme about 7 lakh landless farmers will be provided agricultural credit worth Rs 1,040 crore in a time-frame of next two years. The credit will be provided to farmers in groups in every district of Odisha.
The Balaram Scheme has been seen by many agrarian economists as some sort of a follow-up scheme to the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation(KALIA) Scheme that had been brought forward in 2018 to give financial assistance to small and marginal scale farmers across two separate crop seasons in a year. The assistance permitted under that scheme was Rs 10,000 for each farmer.
The Balaram Scheme: Targeting the Empowerment of Landless Farmers
The recently announced Balaram scheme is of great significance especially at a time such as this, because of its ability to channelise and mobilise the potential of landless farmers in Odisha by providing them with monetary assistance.
This monetary assistance will surely help the landless farmers in Odisha to empower themselves and thereby pave way for a dignified existence. The loan facility under the Balaram Scheme will be provided through joint liability groups in every district based on their collateral.
Many such groups have been in existence since the last two years and the KALIA Scheme has been of great help to the landless farmers. In this way, when landless form groups of 10-15 , it is easier for even banks to give credit against a mutual guarantee or collateral.
The government has plans of extending the reach of the programme in the next two years and make more than 1.5 lakh groups which would each be composed of 5-7 farmers. Around 60,000 groups will get the farm loans under the scheme in this financial year and this means that on an average, each group will get a maximum of Rs 1.6o lakh loan.
The State Level Banker’s Committee will be allotted the task of extending the credit support to even the landless cultivators, whom the institutional credit fold usually eaves behind.
They will be reach out to with joint liability groups and connected to banks where disbursal of credit will be meted out to the farmers. The nodal agencies for this enticed project will be Agricultural Extension and Agricultural Technology Management Agency at the state and the district levels.
The Scheme will be done in collaboration with the National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development.