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NE farmers fail to avail loan: Pawar

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Oct 1 � Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar today expressed unhappiness over non-availing of agricultural loan by the farmers of the North-Eastern States in the way it was expected, which he feels has hampered investment and finally the overall agricultural production of the region.

"Though the Centre has doubled the agricultural credit amount recently and Centre has been able to disburse Rs 3, 50,000 crore this year, the North Eastern States have not been able to reap the maximum benefits from the schemes. The rate of interest of which too has been slashed from 12 per cent to six per cent," Pawar said during a press conference today.

The Union Minister has assured to introduce special measures in this regard by discussing the matter with the banks operating in the region.

"The Centre is bearing a huge subsidy burden and steps would be taken to ensure that the benefits of the subsidy reach to the poorest of the poor," Pawar stated.

Pawar was addressing the media after the two-day conference held in the city on Agriculture Strategies, Policies, and Practices for Northeast India.

Pawar also divulged that as per a demand from all the NE States, the Centre has sanctioned another regional office of the Food Corporation of India(FCI) in Itanagar.

"Moreover, three additional district offices would also be set up in Arunachal Pradesh and a total of 172 posts have also been sanctioned for the new set ups," Pawar pointed out.

He also opined that North-eastern states should increase agricultural production to ensure food security of the region, and the Union Ministry for Agriculture would be keen to extend its support to the efforts.

He referred to a sum of Rs 380 crore that has been earmarked for improving marketing infrastructure for agricultural produce in the NE region. Additional funds worth Rs 300 crore have also been allotted for creating warehouses in rural areas.

"Funds are no constraints. What we want is proper utillisation of funds and timely submission of utilisation certificates," he remarked.

Pawar mentioned that the Ministry will meet every six months to assess the agriculture scenario of the region, to initiate corrective steps and to boost crop yield. "The Northeast is endowed with enormous potential in the agri-horti and allied sectors and these have to be tapped to the optimum level to step up production in a big way," the Minister said. He added that the region could act as a catalyst towards ushering in a second green revolution in the country, an official release stated.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi mentioned that 85 per cent of farm families of Assam fall in small and marginal category with an average land holding of 0.63 ha. The overall agriculture scene will improve if strategies and policies are oriented towards them and landless farmers.

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