A spate in farmer suicides, following banks slapping revenue recovery notices has forced the State Government offer fresh incentives and a moratorium on loan repayment.
Nine people have committed suicide in the last two months in the State due to debts with Idukki alone accounting for six of them. The announcement of sops was made by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The devastating floods in August saw farmers heavily lose crops and cattle. While several people, especially in Idukki, were yet to get relief announced by the Government, the revenue recovery notices by banks left them in a predicament. Even as the Government announced that such recovery initiatives would not be taken up, banks refused to abide by the order saying the government had to stand guarantee.
In Idukki alone, it is estimated that over 20,000 people received bank recovery notices. A few cases, as pointed out in the report by the Idukki District Collector, would not fall into the farmer suicide category. In one instance the recovery notice was for non-repayment of an education loan. Another person who committed suicide never had any agriculture land.
The suicide case at Mala in Thrissur was attributed to debt, following poor business after the floods, which was acknowledged by Agriculture Minister VS Sunilkumar.
However, it remained a fact that the floods and landslides wrecked havoc. Pepper vines wilted, cardamom yield dropped substantially and cocoa and other crops were destroyed after the August flood. Pinarayi announced a moratorium on repayment of loans till December 31.
The benefit would be in all districts, barring Idukki and Wayanad, on loans taken by farmers till March 2014. This was earlier fixed for all loans taken till March 2011. In Idukki and Wayanad, farmers would get this benefit on all loans taken till August 31, 2018.
Earlier, the moratorium was only on loans taken by farmers from the cooperative banks as part of the benefit from the Kerala State Farmers Debt Relief Commission. The loan limit for getting the moratorium benefit has been doubled to Rs 2 lakh.