The Indian Ministry of Agriculture as of the end of February had issued 90.6 million Kisan credit cards to eligible farmers in the country, an official from the ministry tells PaymentsSource.

Regional rural and cooperative banks provide the cards based on farmers’ land holdings for use in buying such agricultural products as seeds, fertilizer and pesticides. Cardholders also may use them to secure cash advances for farming-related purchases.

Farmers must pay back their card loans within three years, and they may make any number of cash advances and purchases within a fixed limit based on operational land holding, cropping pattern and scale of finance. However, cardholders must repay each cash advance within 12 months.

The cards impose annual interest rates of less than 5%.

 “We are launching an intensive branch and village-level campaign to popularize the card among farmers,” the official says. “We expect to break through the 100 million mark by the end of this year.”

The ministry also has begun offering to Kisan cardholders personal accident insurance valued at 50,000 rupees (US$1,052 or 857 euros) for death and permanent disability and at 25,000 rupees for partial disability. Participating cardholders pay a 5 rupee fee annually, according to the official. 

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