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More farmers in Maharashtra turning to private money lenders for loans  

Radheshyam Jadhav | | Updated on: Mar 22, 2022

Covid-led lockdowns, closure of markets, and unseasonal rains have increased farmers’ dependence on moneylenders

The number of individuals seeking loans from licensed private money lenders in Maharashtra increased by 27 per cent in 2021, while the loan amount saw a42 per cent raise during the same period.  Farmer leaders say that majority of these individuals seeking loans are small and marginal farmers.

The figures highlight the ground reality that the dependence of small and marginal farmers in the State on private money lenders multiplied due to Covid-led lockdowns, closure of markets, and unseasonal rains. 

In 2020, over 6,23,000 people availed of loans worth ₹1,235 crore from licensed private money lenders in Maharashtra. In 2021, over 7,88,000 individuals took loans of ₹1,755 crore from licensed money lenders, according to the data presented in the State’s Economic Survey 2021-22.  

Farmer leader and former MP Raju Shetti said that the number of licensed money lenders is just the tip of the iceberg and a huge number of illegal private money lenders have tightened the noose around the necks of farmers in Maharashtra. 

Apart from agriculture and non-agricultural credit societies, the State allows licensed moneylenders to provide loans to individuals. For this purpose, licenses are issued by the office of the Commissioner for Co-operation and Registrar Co-operative Societies. In 2020, the number of license holder money lenders in Maharashtra was 12,993 while in 2021 the number was 12,001. 

Loans for non-farming needs

  

The Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households and Land and Holdings of Households in Rural India, 2019 ( NSS 77th round) data show that small landholding households have to avail of loans for medical expenditure for hospitalisation, doctor’s fees, purchase of medicines, medical diagnostic tests like scans, X-rays, ECG, EEG, and other pathological tests . 

These households also depend on loans for other consumption expenditures including the purchase of durable household assets, clothing for use of the household, etc.

Fight for basic needs

 

Vilas Nakhate, a farmer from Beed, says that small and marginal farmers have to depend on private money lenders as formal institutions don’t entertain them. “ Crop failure and losses due to unseasonal rains have added to the problems on small and marginal farmers,” he said.  

The agricultural census has categorised marginal farmers who have less than 1 hectare of land and those holding 1-2 hectares are considered small farmers. More than 86 per cent of farmers in the country are small and marginal.

In January-December 2020, about 2,547 farmers ended their lives in Maharashtra while in January-November 2021, 2,489 farmers committed suicides.

Published on March 22, 2022
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