Pension for farmers in Kerala soon, govt to form welfare board

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government is all set to introduce a pension scheme for farmers. The draft rules for constituting a Kerala Farmers Welfare Board to disburse the pensions are ready. Farmers taking membership in the board and paying a contributory amount for at least five years would be eligible for a pension when they attain 60 years of age.

The pension amount would be fixed depending on the contributions made by the farmer and the year. Further discussions on implementing the scheme are underway. Farmers in the age group of 18 to 55 years and have carried out agricultural activities for at least three years can take the board membership. People engaged in farming-related sectors like animal husbandry and aquaculture also will be covered by the scheme. 

Farmers can become members of the board by paying a fee of Rs 100. The minimum monthly contribution by the farmer is Rs 100, while the government’s share would be Rs 250. However, farmers can increase their share.

Members of the board will enjoy these eight benefits: Funds for education, including higher studies, and marriage of children; disability pension; aid for dependents after the death of a member; maternity benefits; pension; accident insurance and treatment allowance. The government is planning to make all farmers in the state members of the board.

New credit scheme 

Meanwhile, a new scheme to avail loans is available for entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector. The applications for loans have to be submitted through the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund (AIF) of the Central government.

Under the scheme, banks and other financial institutions would distribute a total amount of Rs one lakh crore to Farming Producers Organisations (FPOs), primary agricultural cooperative societies, investors in the farming sector, startups and marketing cooperatives. The loans are meant to set up e-marketing platforms, primary processing centres, warehouses, packing houses, sorting-grading units and other infrastructural facilities.

Applications can be submitted online on the website agriinfra.dac.gov.in by uploading the necessary documents and creating a user ID. Collateral is not needed for loans up to Rs two crore. Moreover, three per cent subsidy is offered under the credit intensive project.

The banks partnering with the scheme are State Bank of India, UCO Bank, Indian Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Canara Bank, Punjab National Bank, Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab & Sind Bank and Union Bank of India.

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