Agri-loan, key to farming success

Starting today's article with statistics provided by the Bangladesh Bank.

According to IFPRI, 19 percent of farmers take loans from relatives. 15 percent from the landowner, 11.4 percent come from moneylenders and 3.6 percent from various associations and cooperatives. Farmers get the largest share of the loan from the Krishi Bank, which is about 15 percent. Large, medium and small farmers together get 36 percent of the total loan while marginal farmers get about 5 percent. The total percentage of loan all the farmers get is 36 percent. Sharecroppers, the farmers who cultivate other people's land on lease, do not get this loan. As a result, they have to rely on loans from other sources, including NGOs.

Small NGOs and associations began to form in the districts and upazilas from the 80s to the early 90s of the last century. Along with other developmental activities, these institutions started a micro-credit programme. Institutions thrive mainly on interest earned from loans. But there is no such change in the farmer I have witnessed. The farmer falls into a debt trap and sometimes carry the burden of prolonged loans that they take from NGOs and local moneylenders. Farmer Rafiqul Islam from Natore, at one of the open-air discussion among farmers and policymakers, popularly known as 'Krishi Budget Krishoker Budget' (Farmers' Voices in Budget, aired on Channel i), said he has never seen any political person become poor while doing politics, but the farmers are not well off doing their profession, which is farming. "We don't have capital, no one thinks about our market, no one talks about us," Rafiqul angrily said. Such anger doesn't only come from Rafiqul, but almost every farmer bears the same agony. Most importantly, the moneylenders expanded their business by capitalizing on the poor state of the farmers and they never want them to get out of this vicious circle of borrowing money from the locally-rich and powerful people.

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