Friday, August 27, 2010

Flood-hit farmers: Govt asked to offer cheap loans

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Food and Agriculture has suggested to the government to disburse the $900 million World Bank loan to the flood-hit farmers at one per cent interest rate and declare the entire cropping zone as ‘calamity area’.

The committee which met here on Thursday also demanded the government to draw a relief policy for the flood-affected areas and recommended that long-term loans granted by all commercial banks and Zarai Taraqqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL) should be waived.

It also asked the government to pay Rs56 billion to the ZTBL which were waived in the past. The committee asked the ZTBL to dispose of the claims of farmers affected by the flood on priority basis.

The meeting chaired by Javed Iqbal Warraich asked the ministry of food and agriculture to issue notification for declaration of calamity area in view of cropping zone, disease zone and crop susceptibility. The ministry should also devise the crop insurance policy.

The committee asked the ZTBL to issue loans on war-footing to rehabilitate agricultural land damaged by floods. At the same time, the ministry of food and agriculture should develop a comprehensive working plan for detailed survey of flood-hit areas, including a water policy for irrigation purposes.

With regard to establishing model villages, the Standing Committee suggested to re-name the scheme. It decided to visit such a village in Sargodha district.

The committee recommended that the ZTBL should reorganise and improve its credit scheme, and introduce innovation and modern technology of tractors, tube-wells, to farmers through private sector.

With regard to insurance policy, the committee recommended that the ZTBL should devise a clear loan policy for individual small farmers. In this regard, a full working plan should be prepared by the ministry of food and agriculture in collaboration with the ministry of finance, FBR and insurance companies.

The committee asserted that ZTBL should come up with efficient ways to revolutionise agricultural lending. The bank should devise strategies for lending to small and marginalised farmers. It should also ensure lending to farmers in livestock, dairy and fisheries and for development purposes including farmers in livestock and dairy fisheries.[DAWN]

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