India's richest state to waive loans for struggling farmers

MUMBAI, Dec 21 (Reuters) - India’s richest state of Maharashtra will give waivers for loans of up to 200,000 Indian rupees ($2,815) incurred by distressed farmers, its government said on Saturday.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told the state legislature of the move on Saturday, but did not elaborate on how the state would fund the initiative or how many farmers would benefit.

Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, announced a similar scheme in 2017, when waivers were granted for loans totalling $5.27 billion to 8.9 million farmers.

Farmers have been under stress after a drought in 2018 and flooding in 2019, which squeezed their earnings.

Maharashtra is the country’s second biggest producer of sugar, soybean and cotton and the top producer of pulses.

India’s central state of Madhya Pradesh announced a farm loan waiver last year after the Congress party came to power. ($1 = 71.0500 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav and Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Alexander Smith)