MUMBAI: A Maharashtra government-appointed task force to suggest ways to prevent farmer suicides has advised the government a slew of measures like restoration of farm credit, insurance to farmers and restructuring rural financial institutions, among others to resolve the agrarian crisis.
The panel which has incorporated the recommendations of several committees appointed by the Central and the state governments, suggested the Maharashtra government to expand the outreach of the formal credit system to reach the poor and reduce the rate of interest for crop loans to 4 per cent.
"There should be a moratorium on debt recovery, including loans from non-institutional sources, and waiver of interest on loans in distress hot-spots and during calamities, till capability is restored.
"An agriculture Risk Fund should also be established to provide relief to farmers in the aftermath of successive natural calamities," the report, submitted to the state government, stated.
An integrated credit-cum-crop-livestock-human health insurance package should be developed and crop insurance cover should be expanded to cover the entire state and all crops with reduced premiums, it said.
Sustainable livelihoods for the poor should be promoted by improving financial services, Infrastructure and investments in human development, agriculture and business development services, it said.
"While advancing farm credit banks often place a number of undue restrictions and rigid criteria about season, cropping pattern, scale of finance, etc. Instead of the prevailing annual cropping pattern consideration, an average cropping pattern for five years minimum should be used in setting limit and advancing loans," the report said.
It further said the debt waiver scheme implemented in 2007-08 has not addressed the "indebtedness arising from the non-institutional creditors."
"A plan for 'Moneylender-free Village' should be adopted where at least one member of each family in a village should become a member of some Self-help Group (SHG). Also, every rural and semi-urban branch of each bank should adopt one village in its jurisdiction," it said.