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Gujarat’s farm sector in distress, NPAs up 43%

The state is reeling under drought, with 51 taluks in 11 districts declared as scarcity-hit

Reeling under a drought year, the farm sector in Gujarat is facing increasing financial stress levels, revealed the latest State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) report for the fiscal 2018-19 released on Thursday.

The gross non-performing assets (NPA) in the overall agriculture segment for the year has increased by about 43 per cent at ₹5,690 crore as compared to ₹3,972 crore reported in the previous year.

The total percentage of gross NPA to outstanding has increased from 5 per cent last year to close to 7 per cent now.

The report revealed that the agriculture sector’s total outstanding debt as on March 31, 2019 stood at ₹83,157 crore, up 4.6 per cent compared to ₹79,488 crore in the previous year.

‘Retarded growth’

The growth of agriculture advances for the year remained less than the 9.51 per cent growth recorded in the overall advances in the State during the period. “Agriculture sector advances in Gujarat has recorded a retarded growth at 4.62 per cent. This is primarily because of the stress in the sector following drought. There is also a rise in the gross NPAs in overall agriculture sector,” said Vikramaditya Singh Khichi, Chairman, SLBC - Gujarat said.

According to Khichi, the stress levels in agriculture sector was not unique to Gujarat, but it is a pan-India scenario.

The SLBC report also said that banks carried out relief measures after 51 taluks in 11 districts of the State were declared as scarcity-hit. This was done as per RBI’s guidelines. “While extending the relief measures, a total of 4,482 loan accounts have been restructured/rescheduled amounting to ₹42.29 crore upto March 31, 2019. Of which, fresh finance to the tune of 2,471 in terms of number of accounts and ₹11.54 crore in terms of amount has also been extended,” the report said.

Insurance cover

About 17.5 lakh farmers were covered under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (till March 2019), for the year 2018-19, for the land area of 26.08 lakh hectares. The total premium paid to the insurance companies amounted to ₹3,137 crore, of which farmers’ share is estimated to be around ₹250 crore, while the rest was contribution from Centre and State.

According to SLBC officials, so far till March 2019, claims worth ₹2,050 crore were settled benefiting about 10.54 lakh farmers.

The total deposits in the State as on March 31, 2019 stood at ₹6,97,250 crore, which was higher by 5.26 per cent on year-on-year basis. The total advances stood at Rs 5,90,664, up 9.51 per cent from previous year. Gross NPAs for the banks in the State stood at 6.54 per cent of the overall outstanding.

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