Acceding to their demand, the Centre on Monday allowed cash-strapped farmers to pay for seeds using old R500 notes to mitigate risks to the rabi crop due to demonetisation of high-value notes.
“In order to further support farmers for the current rabi crop, the government has decided to allow farmers to purchase seeds with the old high-denomination banknotes of R500 from the centres, units or outlets belonging to the central or state governments, public sector undertakings, national or state seeds corporations, central or state agricultural universities and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, on production of proof of identity,” the government said. The new measure was in addition to last week’s decision to allow farmers to withdraw up to R50,000 per week — R25,000 from their crop loan accounts and an equal amount from mandi payments received electronically in their accounts.
At the first pre-Budget consultative meeting held by finance minister Arun Jaitley with representatives of agriculture groups on Saturday, Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Association general secretary BD Rami Reddy had requested that farmers be allowed to do cash transaction using old notes for buying agricultural inputs till December 30, the last date to deposit old notes in banks. Farmers’ groups had also demanded allowing purchase of fertiliser and pesticides using the old notes.
The government had on November 8 surprised citizens by announcing demonetisation of R500 and R1,000 notes and since then a large number of seemingly unending queues outside banks and post offices have been witnessed.
Among other measures to alleviate concerns on the rabi sowing season, the Centre has already extended the deadline for payment of crop insurance premium by 15 days for farmers and permitted mandi-registered traders to withdraw up to R50,000 per week.