The government has given a significant amount of stimulus loans to various sectors to overcome the economic crisis created by the coronavirus outbreak. The highest amount has been given to the export-oriented industrial sector, totalling Tk 300 billion. The loan is to be repaid in two to five years.

Meanwhile, the farmers of the country have set an example by repaying their loans on time. According to the central bank, they have repaid loans of Tk 84.57 billion in the first four months, July to October, of the current 2020-21fiscal. The amount is Tk 16.99 billion more than the Tk 67.58 billion paid to farmers in the same period last year. In the current financial year, the total agricultural loan disbursement target through 59 banks of the country is Tk 262.92 billion. Of this, Tk 66.29 billion has been distributed during July-October, which is 25.22 per cent of the target for the entire financial year.

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The reason for the increase in the amount of agricultural loan repayment is, firstly, that farmers have got better price for their crops this year. Second, the yield has also been higher. Thirdly, the interest rate on agricultural loans has been reduced to 4 per cent and they are also getting the opportunity to repay past loans at affordable interest rates. Another reason for early repayment of agricultural loans is that a portion of the loans are disbursed through non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs are more active than banks in collecting installments on the loans.

Bangladesh Bank set up a refinancing fund of Tk 50 billion to provide these loans. Bangladesh Bank lends to banks at 1 per cent interest. The bank fixes maximum interest of 4 per cent for the farmers. According to the central bank, the banks disbursed loans worth Tk 35.43 billion in the crop sector from July to October this year. Farmers have been given loans of Tk 560 million for irrigation, Tk 420 million for agricultural machinery, Tk 10.65 million for livestock and poultry farming, Tk 6.24 billion for fisheries and Tk 400 million for grain storage and marketing.

Farmers have kept our economy running. The government should further increase stimulus for the farmers. After all, they will not transfer the money abroad. On the contrary, they repay the loans on time

This proves that farmers do not become defaulters when the overall conditions are favorable. The farmers often have to face various obstacles to get loans. Monitoring of this matter must be stepped up. According to the managing director of Bangladesh Krishi Bank, this will bring positive changes in the agricultural sector. Many of the farmers who have received loans will endeavour for increased production.

According to the policy of Bangladesh Bank, apart from farmers, entrepreneurs who buy and sell agricultural products directly can also take loans under this scheme. However, in this case, no company alone can take a loan of more than Tk 50 million.

No doubt, it has been the farmers who have provided food to the people during the pandemic. In the coastal areas, they have not stopped the agricultural production for a single day, despite the attack of super cyclone Amphan and and also when half of the country was submerged by floods twice. Farmers have kept our economy running. The government should further increase stimulus for the farmers. After all, they will not transfer the money abroad. On the contrary, they repay the loans on time.

Borrowers from other sectors, including export-oriented industries, can also learn from farmers. If everyone repays the loan on time, the investment opportunities will increase and this will be a boost to the country's economy.

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