Hi-tech floriculture, hit by COVID-19 pandemic, is in dire need of relief and stimulus, lest its survival is at stake, according to the Krishnagiri Floriculture Federation.
In an appeal to the Prime Minister, the Federation has called for both short-term and long-term relief measures to wade through the crisis.
The market for flowers has come to a standstill with a freeze on weddings, festivals, hotel industry, social gatherings, and events in the wake of COVID-19. The restrictions in the foreseeable future have made it impossible for a gradual revival of the industry. In its wake, farmers in Krishnagiri contributing to 30% of Indian floriculture exports have called for a relief package from the government.
As a short-term relief measure, the hi-tech floriculturists or greenhouse farmers have sought a compensation package based on the actual capital loss incurred and the actual revenue loss incurred. They have also sought a loan of ₹ 5 lakh per acre to tide over the present crisis and to revive and maintain the farmers for at least the next three months.
The federation has also demanded that the emergency loan be interest-free or with a nominal rate of interest with a repayment period of five years.
As a long-term relief measure, the federation has called for application of the Reserve Bank of India’s Master Direction in 2018 to help distressed farmers in the event of natural calamities. According to the federation, since the government of India had declared COVID-19 as a “Notified Disaster” the RBI’s Master Direction – relief measures by banks in areas affected by natural calamities, 2018, comes into effect.
Under this, the long-term measures should include moratorium on loans, re-scheduling (restructuring of loans), non-levy of penalty, reduction of interest on existing loans, and sanctioning of fresh loans at reduced interest rates.