In a bid to deal with cash crunch, the Punjab government has allowed farmers, who are affiliated to Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), to buy inputs like fertilisers using post-dated cheques which are payable by January 15, 2017.
Sources told FE that farmers could buy agricultural inputs worth R7,000 per acre for wheat from respective PACS using post-dated cheques. This amount would be adjusted against the loan availed by the farmers.
However, those farmers who have not paid back their loan installments would not be eligible for this benefit.
A state government official said most of the farmers in the state have banks accounts and around 16 lakh bank accounts are held by farmers with Punjab State Cooperative Bank and 22 District Cooperative Central Banks (DCCBs) which are KYC compliant.
However, the RBI’s refusal to allow DCCBs to accept or exchange old R 500 and R 1000 currency notes have aggravated the cash crunch faced by farmers.
As per data released by the ministry of agriculture last week, the rabi crops – wheat, rice, pulses, coarse cereals and oilseeds have been sown in 41.5 million hectare (mh) which is marginally lower than average sowing of last five years during the same period.
The normal rabi sowing area in the country is around 63.8 mh.
However, wheat, a key rabi crop has been sown in 17.3 mh till now which is lower by more than 8% than the normal sown area. However, sowing of all other crops have exceeded normal sown area significantly. “In Punjab because of cash crunch, sowing has been delayed by a couple of weeks which is likely to impact the yield,” an official said.
Meanwhile, the Centre has directed the states to ensure that farmers do not face difficulties in purchasing fertilisers due to cash crunch. “States have been directed to ensure that all the cooperative societies, private retailers or wholesalers provide fertilisers to farmers through all modes of payments like on credit as well as through credit card, debit card, cheque etc,” fertiliser minister Ananth Kumar had said.
Kumar said the government has directed fertiliser companies to see that in case any kind of problem is noticed anywhere in the country due to non-availability of cash or banking services, farmers should be provided fertilisers on credit basis.
For ensuring that sowing of rabi crops is not hampered due to cash crunch, fertiliser companies have decided to provide credit facilities to retailers so that farmers get vital agricultural inputs on time despite facing cash crunch.
Besides allowing the farmers to buy seeds from state-owned companies using
old R500 notes, the government last week announced that it will provide R21,000 crore to DCCBs through NABARD to provide loans to farmers to meet their credit requirements during the winter crop season.