Fishermen from villages in the coastal belt of Uttan near Bhayandar have finally started becoming beneficiaries of financial assistance in the form of affordable loans through the central government’s ambitious Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme.
Around seven fishing boat owners from the region fared in the first batch of beneficiaries last week. In addition to the farmers engaged in traditional agriculture, the government had extended the KCC scheme to the fisheries sector, with an aim of helping fishermen to meet up their short-term working capital requirements.
A large section of fishermen secure loans from local moneylenders who not only charge an exorbitant amount of interest, but also force them to sign undertakings pledging to sell their entire catch to a particular trader at lower than market rates, source said.
“This scheme will free small farmers from the clutches of money lenders and loan sharks. However, branches of banks in rural and coastal areas should be tasked with providing the KCC benefits to fishermen in accordance with government guidelines. Several banks are very rigid when it comes to giving KCC for fishermen,” said fishing community leader- Bernard D’mello.
Under the scheme, fishermen can avail concessional credit limits for working capital, fuel, ice, repairing boats and purchasing fishing nets. The 5-year revolving cash credit limit scheme will attract 7% interest with subvention interest of 2% percent per annum in case of timely repayment.
The quaint fishing village’s including-Uttan, Pali and Chowk and Manori is home to over 750 fishing boats in the region. While the KCC will help fishermen expand their business with better cash flow and credibility, banks will periodically review the account to decide the future course of action including- continual, withdrawal or scaling down the facility based on the performance of the borrower.