The COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding, the West Bengal government is keen to disburse Kisan credit cards (KCC) to close to 8 lakh farmers in the state by the 15th of September. Public Sector Units (PSU), cooperative banks, and regional rural banks have been asked to issue the cards to farmers by the deadline.
This is an attempt to stand by small and marginal farmers who have been economically impacted by the lockdown in wake of the pandemic. About 2,00, 000 lakh marginal farmers in North 24 Parganas district, who have not taken loans, will first be getting the KCC.
The government was keen to issue 20 lakh KCC by September 15th, which they still have hope to do. 35 lakh KCCs were issued before June while 12.11 lakh cards were issues between 1st June and 31st August. A total of around 47 lakh farmers have KCC until now while the target is to get the figure to 55 lakh farmers. There are a total of 72 lakh farmers in the state.
Finance Minister Amit Mitra believes that 10 lakh farmers do not need loans as they are financially stable. The entire process is aimed to have a positive impact on the financial sector. The state government is looking to bring farmers associated with pisciculture and animal resources development to benefit from the scheme.
In the aftermath of cyclone Amphan which lashed out in six districts of West Bengal on 20th May, many crops were destroyed which was also another factor for the major economic blow apart from the lockdown. The rural population in West Bengal comprises close to 70% of which the farmer community is a sizeable population.
As Assembly elections are less than a year away, the ruling party is doing their best to reach out to farmers and strengthen their votebank while also empowering farmers economically. The question now is on how effective will the implementation of the KCC be. On Sunday Mitra in a press conference spoke about how the Centre has not disbursed funds to the state which is grappling under the COVID-19 pandemic and the mentioned cyclone Amphan too. Will the KCC serve it’s purpose of economic empowerment of the marginalized farmers? If the move is successful, the ruling party will look at this initiative as another feather in their cap come back to power for the third time.