Bengaluru: The Karnataka government has disbursed financial aid to 3.2 million farmers to compensate for crop loss due to severe drought in 27 of the 30 districts in the state, agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda said on Wednesday.
“We have compensated 31,90,000 farmers across the state so far by depositing money directly in their bank accounts through RTGS (real-time gross settlement) as per their land holdings from funds (Rs.1,540 crore) the central government granted and supplemented by the state budgetary allocation,” Gowda told reporters here.
Reeling under a worst drought in over four decades due to deficit south-west monsoon for two consecutive years, the state government sought Rs.3,840 crore from the Centre in the last fiscal (2015-16) to compensate farmers for kharif crop loss and an additional Rs.1,250 crore for rabi crop loss to mitigate hardships they were facing.
“Besides compensation, interest on loans were waived and their repayments deferred to this fiscal (2016-17) to ensure that farmers cope with the crisis and prevent them from committing suicide, which was highest (1,036) in the state,” Gowda added.
Alarmed by the spate of suicides by debt-ridden farmers in the state since June 2015, the state government cracked the whip on money lenders, pawn brokers and private financiers who were fleecing the drought-hit farmers for repaying their credit borrowed at high interest rates.
“In addition to compensation and waivers, we are providing free counselling and medical aid to farmers and their families to check rising suicides by their fraternity. As a result, the number of suicides declined drastically to 45 in April from about 150-200 between June and August last year,” Gowda said.
Hoping for a normal monsoon this year, Gowda said his ministry had provided enough seeds and fertilisers to all local bodies for sale and distribution to farmers in time after the first spell of rains by June 10.
“We are gearing up officials, extension officers and agriculture experts to provide their expertise to farmers for sowing operations within days after the rainy season starts early June and lasts hopefully till September,” Gowda added.