Kerala announces steps to stem farmer suicides in Wayanad

TRIVANDRUM - The Kerala cabinet on Wednesday initiated a slew of measures, including support price for agricultural products, one-year-moratorium on loans and interest concessions, to check the current spate of farmer suicides in the northern district of Wayanad.

By T K Devasia

Published: Fri 18 Nov 2011, 12:37 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:16 AM

The cabinet finalised these measures on the recommendation of a high-level committee led by Additional Chief Secretary K Jayakumar. The moratorium will be applicable on loans availed by farmers from the government institutions like the housing board and vegetable and fruit promotion council.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters after the cabinet meeting that the government will convene meeting of other banks to discuss relief to the farmers. He said that the government institutions will completely waive the penal interest and return 10 per cent of the interest to those who repaid the loans without default.

The cabinet has also set up a high level committee headed by Agriculture Minister K P Mohanan to solve the crisis faced by the farmers. Minister for Tribal Welfare K Jayalakshmi and the additional chief secretary will be the other members of the committee.

The Jayakumar Committee had identified a steep crash in the price of certain agricultural as the major reason for the current crisis. The senior official said that the fluctuations in the prices of ginger and banana had put farmers in highly vulnerable positions.

Jayakumar said that the debt relief offered by the government earlier had also not reached many farmers and called for an evaluation of the steps taken by the Debt Relief Commission. The farmers are also sceptical about the current measures announced by the government.

They pointed out that the moratorium on repayment of loans will not help farmers unless steps are taken to ensure higher price for their products. Farmers representatives said that the interest concession will also not bring relief to many as only few farmers had availed loans from the government institutions.

Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the federal and state governments on the measures taken by them to ease the debt burden of the farmers. The notice came on a public interest petition seeking a direction to the federal government to provide financial aid to debt-ridden farmers in the state.

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