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The Naveen Patnaik-led Odisha government on Friday, July 3, launched a scheme to provide agricultural credit of Rs 1,040 crore to landless farmers across the state who have been facing hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A first-of-its-kind targeted scheme named 'Balaram' is aimed at providing financial assistance to seven lakh landless farmers in the next two years.
The Balaram scheme is being seen as a follow-up to Odisha's Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation(KALIA) scheme which was launched in 2018 to provide financial assistance amounting to Rs 10,000 to small and marginal scale farmers across two separate crop seasons in a year.
The state's agricultural officials said that the verified database of tenant/landless farmers which was maintained under the KALIA scheme will be integrated into this scheme, The Print reported.
"The loan facility will be provided through joint liability groups in every district based on their collateral," said M. Muthukumar, director, Odisha agriculture department.
The state will follow the process of extending the credit facility to the landless farmers on 'social collateral' model through joint liability groups (JLGs).
In simpler terms, when the landless form a group consisting of five-ten farmers, it becomes comparatively easier for banks to give credit against a mutual guarantee or collateral by the group.
The Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment Secretary, Sourabh Garg, said that the scheme was designed in collaboration with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). He added that the village agriculture workers will help in smooth implementation of the programme at the field level, according to Krishi Jagran.
"Extending credit to the cultivators will be a firm step towards enhancing productivity in the agricultural sector," he said. "Each JLG will have five members and one group will get Rs 1.6 lakh. The target is to cover around seven, lakh landless, cultivators through 1.40 lakh JLGs within two years," said Mr Garg.
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