For four years, Marathwada has been reeling under drought, with 2018 being the worst
Image: Satish Bate / Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Farmers of Marathwada have a term for how they use bank crop loans disbursed during the July-October kharif season—“Nava juna”, meaning ‘new old’. They take the new loan to pay off their old loan, which they had taken the previous year from the shopkeeper of the store from which they buy seeds, fertilisers and the like.
Bank loans usually come too late for sowing purposes. Besides, farmers get only agricultural loans from banks. But since agriculture is reliant on the vagaries of nature, they also want general loans to develop their farms or start small businesses. Farmers want these loans to be based on their land value and proposals to develop their farms, rather than having banks think they will eventually seek loan waivers.
Banks, say farmers, do not entertain them for anything other than agricultural loans. “If a villager has 10 acres of land, the bank can mortgage his land and give him a loan of, say, ₹25 lakh to develop his farm as he pleases, and do some side business,” says a farmer from Georai taluka in Beed district. “Give us the money, without telling us how to build something or which buffalo to buy,” adds another farmer.
Some have managed to use government subsidies for installing drip irrigation systems or for digging ponds; but the subsidy amount comes only after the irrigation system or pond has been built.
In a good monsoon year, farmers wouldn’t even think of having loans waived. But for the past four years, the region has been reeling under drought, with 2018 being the worst—it received only about three days of rain, as against the normal of 25-30 days. Acres of dry farmland stand barren, with most farmers skipping the rabi crop (sown in mid-November), or sowing only a part of their land.