Special financial package sought to bail out calamity-hit farmers

The Andhra Pradesh government has sought a "special financial package" from the Centre to help farmers and other sections that suffered heavy losses because of natural calamities.

Last Updated: Dec 30, 2010, 17:34 PM IST

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government has sought a "special financial package" from the Centre to help farmers and other sections that suffered heavy losses because
of natural calamities.

"We have requested for a special financial package from the Government of India to help not only farmers but also weavers and fishermen who too suffered heavy losses. In all
the state suffered losses to the tune of Rs 12,500 crore due to four cyclones and heavy rains in the last one year," state Information Minister DK Aruna said.

She was briefing newsmen at the end of a meeting of the state Cabinet today, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, which discussed at length the steps being taken to bail out calamity-hit farmers from the current crisis.

The state government has asked a group of ministers to work out modalities for procuring paddy that suffered more than 50 percent damage because of heavy rains early this month even as the Food Corporation of India and the state Civil Supplies Corporation purchased 2.48 lakh tonnes of partly damaged paddy from farmers.

Aruna said the FCI had already relaxed fair average quality (FAQ) norms for procurement of damaged and discoloured paddy. Accordingly, 20.28 lakh tonnes of paddy that met the FAQ norms was already purchased from farmers.

"The chief minister has asked a group of ministers to workout modalities for procuring paddy that suffered more than 50 percent damage. Based on the recommendations of the GoM, the government will soon take a decision on procurement of such paddy," the Information Minister said.

Aruna said the state government estimated the loss to agriculture because of the heavy rains early this month to be Rs 1,207 crore.

"The state government will pay Rs 763 crore as input subsidy to the affected farmers. Of the Rs 400 crore aid announced by the Centre, Rs 300 crore will be a grant and the
balance advance. The Central assistance was released last evening," Aruna added.

She said another Rs 1,019 crore was released now by the state as input subsidy for farmers who were hit by Jal cyclone in November.

While crop loans to the tune of Rs 4,780 crore disbursed during Kharif 2009 were rescheduled because of the losses suffered by farmers, the state government was requesting the Reserve Bank of India to reschedule Kharif 2010 loans as well.

The state government would waive interest on these loans amounting to Rs 350 crore, the Minister said.

PTI