Right at the beginning of the crucial season of sowing and all other agricultural work that farmers have to take up, there is a major credit crunch being felt in the rural economy of Maharashtra. This shortage of funds in rural and district banks - most experts say - is the second big shock after the demonetisation announced in November last year by the government. This second shock is likely to make a very hard impact on the state’s agro economy. Most say this is only because of bad planning and politics because of which the farmers will suffer.
The anticipation of the farm loan waiver started in Maharashtra because the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh announced a farm loan waiver as an election campaign promise which the party even fulfilled post their win in the state polls. This pushed the Shiv Sena and other parties to demand a similar loan waiver in Maharashtra, sensing that loans may be waived the farmers’ stopped repaying their credit to the rural banks and credit societies and this has now resulted in the shortage of funds in the banks. So farmers really don’t have the credit supply that they need for the upcoming important agricultural season of sowing.
Looking at the sequence of events that have lead to this situation in Maharashtra, one can draw the conclusion that it all starts with politics and too much of it in every decision making has affected the agro sector very badly. The official announcement of the loan waiver that CM Devendra Fadnavis made a few days ago which led to the farmers withdrawing their agitation has little meaning because banks say they have got no such communication so are forced to continue to demand the repayment of the credit.
The Centre, on the other hand, has made it clear that there is no chance of them sharing the burden of loan waiver announced by the State government of Maharashtra. So, the farmers have been caught between the rock and a hard place! Do they repay the loan because banks are still chasing them or do they wait for the state to communicate to the banks in which case, the precious sowing season will pass without them getting further credit?
The State promised as a matter of temporary measure that they would give a disbursement of Rs 10,000 immediately to the farmers who have not got credit but regional media channels now openly are reflecting the situation in Maharashtra where not a single farmer has got the benefit of such scheme, according to them.
Complete lack of communication and an indecisive approach by the government under political pressure has led to this misery. The government has to now come out with some concrete steps to quickly control the situation without succumbing to pressure by alliance partners such as Shiv Sena and others to save the situation from going from bad to worse.