Indian Agrarian Crisis now moved to

Farmer-the most endangered species

Debt Waiver necessary but not Sufficient-Jadhav Committee

Posted by Ramoo on September 12, 2008

Kumud Das

The Narendra Jadhav committee, constituted by the Maharahstra government on various farmer-related issues, has said that debt-waiver cannot be a permanent solution to farmers’ woes. Also, the committee has pointed out a host of issues related to the scheme in the light of its implementation in Maharashtra and other related issues like farmers’ suicide and the cropping pattern in the state. The report, which has been submitted on July 29, has been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi as well.

Under the prevailing circumstances, the debt-waiver is absolutely necessary but not sufficient. It would be inappropriate to assume that the debt-waiver scheme would be the panacea for all the problems facing the agricultural sector, says the report.

The fundamental malady behind farmers’ indebtedness and distress is the uneconomical state of farming. As long as capacity and willingness towards repayment is not created among the farmers through medium- and long-term measures, the possibility of farmers receiving a debt-waiver and again getting back into the debt-trap, certainly remains, adds the report. In that case, the financial burden would have to be placed again on the state and the central government. No government can possibly afford to bear this vicious circle and therefore concerted efforts would have to be made to avoid getting into this vicious circle in the first place, suggests the report.

The government of Maharashtra had appointed a one-man committee in November last year under the chairmanship of Narendra Jadhav, vice chancellor of the University of Pune, to look into the grave phenomenon of farmers’ suicides’ in Vidarbha.

The distribution of land holdings across different regions of Maharashtra is highly skewed. In Vidarbha and Marathwada, landholding per farming family is much more than in Western Maharashtra. In respect of irrigation facilities, the situation is exactly the opposite: relatively low in Vidarbha and generally abundant in Western

Maharashtra. As a result, availability of bank credit facilities is much more in western Maharashtra than in Vidarbha. It follows that the absolute number of eligible account holders is much more in western Maharashtra than in Vidarbha.

Consequently, the suicide-prone Vidarbha is likely to receive significantly smaller benefits than western Maharashtra, says the report.

Also, the committee has proposed that the state government should extend the scheme backwards to cover all those farmers whose loans became outstanding before March 31, 1997. The short-term crop-loan extended during the year 2007-08 has become outstanding as on

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