Flood-hit coffee growers seek interest waiver on loans
Bengaluru : Karnataka coffee growers on Tuesday sought interest waiver on loans for heavy loss they incurred after floods damaged their plantations in Kodagu district.
"Together with the Coffee Board, we have made a representation before the Ministry of Commerce asking for reduction of interest rates on all crop loans," said Karnataka Planters' Association (KPA) Chairman H.T. Pramod.
The coffee growers sought interest waiver on loans up to Rs 10 lakh to zero per cent, up to Rs 25 lakh to 3 per cent per annum and above Rs 25 lakh to 6 per cent per annum.
KPA, the apex plantation decision-making body in the state, estimates the loss and damage to coffee estates, coffee crop and infrastructure due to floods in Kodagu in August and heavy rains in Chikkamagaluru and Hassan districts in the Western Ghats to be Rs 3,000 crore.
The planters' association also urged the Centre to declare a moratorium period of one year against recovery of all kinds of loans obtained by affected coffee growers.
It also insisted for a complete waiver of loans of those coffee growers who have lose their coffee holdings, homes and belongings and to facilitate fresh loans at zero per cent interest rate for up to Rs 10 lakh and 3 per centAinterest per annum for loans above Rs 10 lakh.
At least 3.43 lakh coffee growers in the southern state have pending loans cumulatively amounting up to Rs 6,000-crore, the official said.
Pointing to a delay in the disbursement of subsidies for replanting of coffee crop, KPA said over 1,500 hectares of plantations have been affected severely in Kodagu district alone.
As many as 20,000 growers of about 45,000 in Kodagu have lost more than 70 per cent of their coffee plantations as a result of the recent floods.
"Most of the plantations have to be replanted and during the period, most of the growers will suffer huge losses. It is now important for the government to come to the rescue of the coffee industry," KPA statement said.
The KPA chairman also urged the centralAgovernment to pass a special Bill for compensation at four times the guidance value from national calamity funds to those coffee growers who have lost their land holdings due to landslides in Kodagu.