By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, January 7, 2019: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik appears to have a knack for innovative programmes catching attention of other states.

The Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme is one among them, which would benefit about 92% of the farmers in the state. The government has earmarked Rs 10,180 crore for the plan in 3 years.

Inidentally, KALIA programme is showing the country new way to provide financial, livelihood and cultivation support along with insurance support to small, marginal and the landless farmers.

The rising farm distress has prompted many chief ministers announcing loan waivers and some implementing major schemes. But the crucial question is whether farm loan wavers is the real solution to mitigate farmers’ distress.

KLAIA scheme is unique in a way that it provides financial assistance of Rs 25,000 per farm family over five seasons to small and marginal farmers so that farmers can purchase inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and use assistance towards labour and other investments from 2018-19 to 2021-22.

Secondly, the scheme has a provision for financial assistance of Rs 12,500 to each landless Agricultural Household for agricultural allied activities like for small goat rearing unit, mini-layer unit, duckery units, fishery kits for fisherman, mushroom cultivation and bee-keeping, etc.

Thirdly, the scheme provides financial assistance to vulnerable cultivators and landless agricultural labourers a sum of Rs 10,000 per family per year to enable them to take care of their sustenance. The vulnerable cultivator and landless agricultural labourers those who are in old age, having disability or disease and are vulnerable for any other reason.

Most importantly, the scheme ensures life insurance for cultivators & landless agricultural labourers to the extent of Rs 2 lakh at a very nominal premium of Rs 330, which will be provided to all savings bank account holder of age between 18-50 years. Odisha government will bear farmers’ share of the annual premium of Rs 165. Personal accident cover of Rs 2 lakh at a very nominal annual premium of Rs 12 for all savings bank account holder aged between 18-50 years.

Out of Rs 12 towards premium, Rs 6 is the farmers’ share, which will be borne by the state government. A beneficiary whose age is between 51-70 years, the entire amount of Rs 12 towards annual premium will be borne by the government.

Lastly, the KALIA scheme has provision for interest-free crop loan for vulnerable landless labourers, cultivators and agricultural families identified by Gram Panchayats up to Rs 50,000 at 0% interest.

Interestingly, the Odisha chief minister has refused to write off farm loans. Loan waivers penalise honest farmers who repay on time and can discourage them from doing so. According to Naveen Patnaik, of the 32 lakh cultivators in Odisha, only the richest 20 lakh have farm loans, and they should not be the main beneficiaries of an anti-distress programme.

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