In a high level meeting between the Kerala Agriculture Minister, VS Sunil Kumar and the officials of State Bank of India (SBI) in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, it was decided to write off those agriculture loans lent by SBI which became non-performing assets (NPAs) in 2016, provided the farmer paid 50% of the outstanding amount, The Hindu reported.
This targeted one-time settlement would benefit 36,000 farmers in the State. Thirty days after the settlement, the very same farmers will be eligible to access agricultural loans disbursed by SBI. The public sector bank would disburse agricultural loans of Rs 16,000 crore during this process. The settlement is expected to cost the SBI Rs 275 to Rs 300 crore.
It was also decided that the SBI would open a web portal for farmers to interact directly with the bank. This is to address complaints that the SBI was not disbursing adequate agriculture loans. It was decided that the SBI would broadbase the issue of Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs). It was also decided that loans up to Rs 3 lakh would be given for vegetable farming at an interest rate of 4%. The SBI team was led by Chief General Manager S. Adikesavan.
The Kerala Agriculture Department would open a call centre for farmers to air their grievances and to seek expert help on farming-related issues. The call centre would be inaugurated on November 1. On every first Wednesday from 5.30 pm, the Agriculture Minister of the State would be available for direct talks with farmers. A team of experts from Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) would also be available to give assistance to farmers.