60-day interest waiver on farm loans from co-op banks: Modi

New Delhi, Dec 31 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a 60-day interest waiver for farmers who have taken loans from district cooperative central banks and primary societies for the Rabi sowing season.

“Friends in the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that the agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by six per cent compared to last year. Fertilizer offtake is up by nine per cent,” the Prime Minister said in his address to the nation.

According to the Prime Minister, during the 50-day period of demonetisation drive, the government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access to seeds, fertilisers and credit.

“Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers. Farmers who have taken loans for the Rabi crop from District Cooperative Central Banks and Primary Societies, will not have to pay interest on such loans for a period of 60 days,” the Prime Minister elaborated.

“Farmers who have paid interest during the last two months, will receive these amounts back, directly into their bank accounts.”

The Prime Minister pointed-out that arrangements have been made to provide farmers even better access to loans from cooperative banks and societies.

“NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) created a fund of Rs 21,000 crore rupees last month. Now, government is adding Rs 20,000 crore more to this,” Prime Minister Modi stated.

“The loss that NABARD suffers by giving loans to cooperative banks and societies at low interest rates, shall be borne by the Government of India.”

The Prime Minister added that government has decided to provide RuPay debit cards to three crore farmers who have Kisan Credit Cards within three months.

“Kisan Credit Cards were launched in 1998, but so far, it was essential to go to a bank, to use them. Now, farmers will have RuPay Debit Cards, which they can use anywhere,” he said.

Modi addressed the nation a day after the nearly two-month long demonetisation exercise came to end.