Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, MP, urged the central government to impose a moratorium on the repayment of short-term agricultural loans by the country’s farmers until December 31, 2021 and to waive all criminal interest.
In a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday, Gandhi said farmers across the country were in acute distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The majority of the farmers in his constituency, Wayanad, were small and marginal farmers and depended on cash crops for their livelihood, Gandhi said.
Many areas of the state were devastated by two consecutive years of flooding in 2018 and 2019.
As farmers were on the road to recovery, the pandemic struck, severely exacerbating the agrarian distress. At present, farmers received short-term agricultural loans at a preferential rate under the interest subsidy scheme.
However, factors such as multiple bottlenecks, disruptions in the supply chain and limited market access have severely affected farm incomes. “The increase in debts coupled with future economic uncertainty has affected the ability of our farmers to repay the loan on time,” Gandhi said, adding that he had received representations calling for a moratorium on loan payments. short-term collection of individuals and organizations in his constituency.
As millions of farmers across the country were similarly positioned, swift government intervention was the need of the moment, Gandhi said.