Instead of announcing farm loan waiver like other States, the Odisha Cabinet on Friday approved the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme amounting to ₹10,000 crore to accelerate agricultural prosperity in the State and to reduce poverty.KALIA is progressive, inclusive and will make a direct attack on poverty by way of massive investment in the agriculture sector and making benefits reach the most needy through direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode, said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik briefing presspersons after the Cabinet meeting.Interest freeMr. Patnaik said that under KALIA an amount of ₹10,180 crore will be spent over a period of three years till 2020-211. Crop loans up to ₹50,000 will henceforth be interest free, and the scheme will be reviewed in 2020-21 for further modifications.He termed the new scheme historical, stating that it covers almost 92% of the cultivators in the State and almost all landless agricultural labourers.There are about 32 lakh cultivators in the State. Of these, about 20 lakh have availed of crop loans. Of the 20 lakh loanee farmers, about 60% have regularly repaid loans. Further, the entire gamut of share croppers and landless labourers will not be covered under a loan waiver scheme, Mr. Patnaik pointed out.“What wrong have the 60% done in repaying the loans,” questioned Mr. Patnaik, while criticising the Opposition Congress and the BJP that have promised loan waiver if voted to power in the State.He added that KALIA scheme covers the cultivators, loanee, as well as non-loanee farmers, share croppers and landless agricultural labourers. It also specifically takes care of vulnerable agricultural families identified through gram panchayats and crop loans are made available at 0% interest.Financial assistanceAll the small and marginal farmers of the State (92% cultivators) will be covered under the scheme. An amount of ₹10,000 per family at the rate of ₹5,000 for Kharif and Rabi shall be provided as financial assistance for taking up cultivation.The farmers will have complete independence to take up interventions as per their needs. This component is not linked to extent of land owned and will greatly benefit share croppers and actual cultivators most of whom own very small extent of land. Under this initiative, 10 lakh landless households will be supported with a unit cost of ₹12,500 to take up activities like small goat rearing units, mini layer units, duck units, fishery kits for fishermen and women, mushroom cultivation and bee keeping.As regards financial assistance to vulnerable agriculture households and landless labourers, an annual financial assistance of ₹10,000 per household will be provided to take care of their sustenance. Deserving families will be identified and selected by gram panchayats. About 10 lakh households will be covered over two years.Further, life insurance cover of ₹2 lakh and additional personal accident cover of ₹2 lakh will be provided to both cultivators and agricultural labourers covering about 57 lakh households.