Odisha will provide crop loans worth crores to seven lakh landless sharecroppers in the state through joint liability groups (JLGs) in the next two years through a new scheme, officials said.
The scheme, Balaram Yojana, is a sequel to the Kalia scheme announced last year just before the polls for small and marginal farmers and would enable sharecroppers to get loans of around Rs 1,040 crore.
Asit Tripathy, the state’s chief secretary, said sharecroppers would be given credit facility on the basis of “social collateral” through joint liability groups.
Around 140,000 such groups would be formed with each group comprising five farmers. Around 70,000 groups will get farm loans under the scheme this year.
A joint liability group is an informal group comprising preferably 4 to 10 individuals who come together to avail a loan from a bank either singly or through the group mechanism against the mutual guarantee.
Its members offer a joint undertaking to the bank that would enable them to avail loans. The credit assessment of the group could be based on the available cultivable area by each member. All members would jointly execute the document and own the debt liability together and severally.
Ashok Meena, the state finance secretary, would mobilise the banking sector through State Level Bankers Committee for the loans to JLGs.
The chief secretary directed every bank branch in the state to provide at least 10 farm loans this year. In rural areas and small towns in the state, there are around 7,000 branches of banks and Primary Agricultural Cooperative societies.
In April this year, the Odisha government had framed draft legislation to recognise the rights of sharecroppers in the state.
The draft legislation “Odisha Agricultural Land Leasing Act”, would help a sharecropper into a written lease agreement on mutually agreed terms and conditions, with a landowner for the cultivation of agricultural produces.
Once passed by the assembly, the legislation would mark a change of fortunes for millions of sharecroppers in Odisha where sharecropping was banned following an amendment in Orissa Land Reforms Act in 1974. Despite the ban on sharecropping, more than 70 per cent of land is cultivated through sharecropping.
As per the draft legislation, the lease agreement between the sharecropper and the landowner would contain several details, boundaries, location and area of leased out land, duration of the lease expressed in months or years.
Apart from a written agreement, there will a provision for oral lease. Both sharecropper and landowner have to apply before the revenue officer and the matter will have to be discussed in a gram sabha, as per the draft legislation.
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