<p>In a move to increase the agricultural productivity in Tamil Nadu, public sector banks have set a target to increase their lending to the agriculture sector by almost 41 per cent to Rs 51,000 crore. The significant jump is mainly due to the increase in investment credit for the farmers.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s deputy governor Subir Gokarn recently said that the state had been an important source of rice and paddy and that the volatility was higher as compared to other parts of the country, mainly due to the cropping pattern.
He said that the share of agriculture in the state’s GDP was 16.7 per cent in 2000-01, which came down to 7.7 per cent in 2011-12. “It is not alarming. This was due to the resources moving to the industry and services from agriculture”. He was referring to land and human resources.
“We want to increase the productivity of agriculture in the state to support the Tamil Nadu government’s vision,” said Indian Overseas Bank (IOB)'s chairman and managing director M Narendra. It may be noted that IOB is the convenor of the State-Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC).
According to Narendra, the banks had disbursed around Rs 36,000 crore during the last financial year and a target of Rs 51,000 has been set for the current fiscal, of which around 60 per cent will go towards crop loans.
“What we want to focus is investment credit, to boost the agriculture. Last year the investment credit disbursed by the Banks was around Rs 3,000 crore and this year we are looking at around Rs 25,000 crore. No mandate has been give, only instructions were given to the Banks.
So far, the banks were not focusing much on certain types of loans including combined harvesting, coal storage, godowns and warehousing.
According to the SLBC data, of the total 8.2 million, around 7.7 million farmers had so far availed banking credits using Kisan Credit Cards (KCC). Of this, the banks would cover around 2 million, including 500,000 repeat finance under KCC.
It may be noted that Tamil Nadu is endowed only with three per cent of the nation’s water resources, putting high stress on the irrigation water availability. The current fallow lands, which were 7.59 Lha during 2005-06, have increased to 11.17 Lha during 2009-10 while the net cultivated area, which was 52.44 Lha during 2005-06 has come down to 48.92 Lha during 2009-10.
The irrigated area in Tamil Nadu is declining steadily. The net irrigated area, which was 29.31 Lha during 2008-09, has come down to 28.64 Lha during 2009-10 and the irrigation intensity was 1.14 during 2009-10. The 28.64 Lha of irrigated area was covered by 2,239 canals, 78 reservoirs, 41,262 tanks and 18,36,055 wells.
The state government has set a target to treble or quadruple the farmers’ per capita income within five years and to improve the agricultural productivity by 35 per cent. The government plans to achieve this through effective dissemination of advanced technology to improve productivity, farm-based interventions for mixed farming and by convergence of schemes to ensure integrated farm development.
To implement these schemes and for other development activities, the government has allocated Rs 3,804.96 crore in the 2012-13 state Budget This will be the highest-ever allocation to the sector.