New Delhi: Emphasising that ample credit to the tune of Rs 7 lakh crore flows in the agricultural sector every year, the government on Friday said it is taking "speedy" measures to help farmers who are grappling with debt burden.
"We will not let down our farmers," Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha told Lok Sabha during Question Hour.
He said many steps have been taken to reduce debt burden as well as increase availability of institutional credit to farmers.
On concerns that many farmers are under the clutches of money lenders, the government said that only about 25 percent of credit in the agricultural sector comes from such entities while 75 percent is given by financial institutions, including public sector banks.
Asserting that agricultural credit has been expanding rapidly, Sinha said Rs 7 lakh crore worth credit flows in this sector every year. "Ample credit is flowing," he noted.
The annual target set by it for flow of credit to agricultural sector is being "consistently surpassed by banks".
"Government is taking speedy and aggressive measures to help farmers... We will not let down our farmers," Sinha said.
There is a full range of opportunities and government will extend all help down to the last person, he said.
The government cited findings of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), which had conducted Situation Assessment Survey (SAS) of agricultural households in the rural areas for the reference period of agricultural year July 2012-June 2013.
Estimated average amount of outstanding loan per agricultural household as on date of the survey was Rs 47,000, it noted.
"The survey estimated that at all-India level, 25.8 percent of the loans were sourced from agricultural/professional money lender," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a written reply. Responding to a query on farmer suicides, Sinha said such incidents are localised and are due to factors such as drought.
With regard to Maharashtra, Sinha said credit is not the only solution for farmer suicides in that state. The situation is mainly due to drought and lack of adequate irrigation facilities.
To help farmers, the government has initiated various measures and also extended crop insurance for more people.
About 14 crore Kisan credit cards have been issued and these help farmers to seeds and fertilisers, among others.
Kisan credit card scheme has been simplified and converted into ATM-enabled debit card with facilities such as one-time documentation.
To help borrowers in times of natural calamities, the Reserve Bank of India and NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development) have issued standing guidelines for relief measures to be provided by respective lending institutions in the affected areas.
"The moment calamity is declared by the concerned district authorities, these guidelines have been so designed that they are automatically set in motion without any intervention and this saves precious time," Jaitley said.
Besides, banks have been advised to waive security requirements of agricultural loans up to Rs 1,00,000 while the need for furnishing 'no-due' certificate has been done away with in case of loans up to Rs 50,000.