Stresses for greater focus in agriculture sector to strengthen rural economy
NABARD should work with greater focus in the agriculture sector, so as to strengthen the rural economy of the State. This was stated by the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur while presiding over the NABARD State Credit Seminar 2021-22, organized by the Regional Office NABARD here today with a theme ‘Collectivization of Agricultural Produce for Enhancing Farmers Income’. Chief Minister also released NABARD State Focus Paper-2021-22 and a booklet on ‘Various Refinance Schemes of NABARD’ on the occasion.
The Chief Minister hoped that the ‘The State Focus Paper’ would act as an input for the credit and infrastructure planning by bankers and State Government to prioritize allocation of funds for development. He said that this annual exercise aimed at promoting the increased production in agriculture and allied sectors and generating job opportunities in the farm as well as non-farm sector by the envisaged credit support.
Jai Ram Thakur said that being a special State, on account of its hilly terrain and other socio economic conditions, planning needs of the State cannot be equated with other States of the country. He said that the State needs special parameters, while working out its credit and developmental needs and while implementing development strategies. He said that average land holdings in Himachal Pradesh was one acre and constitute 88 percent of total land holdings of the State against the National average of 1.15 hectare and 86.21 percent respectively and 80 percent of the total cultivated area in the State was rain-fed. All these factors of the low productivity and production of agriculture pose challenges for the planners and stakeholders, he added.
While appreciating the concept of Farmer Producers’ Organizations (FPO) of NABARD, Jai Ram Thakur said that the main objective of the FPOs was collectivization of agricultural produce, value addition and collective marketing so that farmers can fetch better prices of their produce. He said that the cumulative assistance had been sanctioned to the State under RIDF was Rs. 8679.28 crore as on date which is a major facilitator in creation of infrastructure in the State.
The Chief Minister said that bankers should issue Kissan Credit Cards to each and every eligible farmer in the State to facilitate them in availing credit as per their needs. He said that NABARD has estimated credit potential for the year 2021-22 for the State for priority sectors was Rs. 27724.04 crore, which shows an increase of 7.22 percent over the previous year plan of Rs. 25857.26 crore. This now needs to be executed appropriately by the bank and stakeholders in the process, he added.
Jai Ram Thakur said that the year 2020, has not been very kind and supportive in terms of promoting economic growth because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that it was also a great challenge before the government as well as to the institutions like NABARD, to ensure the best possible growth, and more so, in the rural areas since a large population of the nation still lives in these areas.
The Chief Minister said that the Agriculture Bill aimed at protecting the interests of the farmers from being got exploited in the hands of middlemen. He said that farmers would be able to get best price of their produces in any markets of their choice. He said that during the Corona pandemic, the State Government made adequate arrangements for transportation of produces of the farmers and horticulturists to the markets. He said that due to this they were able to fetch best price of cherry and apple despite the pandemic. He said that the State Government would consider to bring in State’s own Agriculture Policy catering to the needs of the farmers.
Jai Ram Thakur expressed hope that the professional and personal relationship between NABARD and Government of Himachal Pradesh would go a long way to benefit the people of the State. He said that these collective efforts would help in doubling the Farmers Income by 2022. On behalf of the State, all out support and an enabling environment to NARARD and bankers would be ensured for achieving the targets enumerated in this document, he added.
The Chief Minister also honoured five Farmers Organisations viz. The Vijeshwari Agro Marketing Coop Society, Sirmour, The Shivam Milk Producer Cooperative Society, Nalagarh, district Solan, Manimahesh Kissan Utpadak Cooperative Society, Bharmour, district Chamba, Subzi Utpadak Cooperative Society, Karsog, district Mandi and Him Gramin Krishi Utpadak evam Marketing Cooperative Society, Dhanali, district Kullu for their best performances.
Agriculture, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Virender Kanwar said that NABARD has a deep understanding of developmental needs of the rural areas of the State. He said that NABARD was one of the few organisations of the Central Government that has direct presence at the district level of the State through District Development Managers. He said that 2.60 crore mandays had been generated in the State under MNERGA during the last three years. He said that effective steps were being taken to strengthen the economy of the farmers. He also felt the need for greater loans in various farm activities such as goat farming, dairy farming, piggery, pisciculture, poultry farm etc. He said that the need was to create small entrepreneurship at the village level.
Additional Chief Secretary Finance Prabodh Saxena said that NABARD was playing a major role in strengthening and developing infrastructure in the rural areas of the State. He said that NABARD was also doing a commendable work in the agriculture sector in the State.
Chief General Manager NABARD Dinesh Kumar Kapila while welcoming the Chief Minister and other dignitaries emphasized the need for the formation of more Farmer Producers Organisations in the State for the benefit of the small and marginal farmers and collection of their produce. He said that the Potential Linked Credit Plan contain sector wise and activity wise potential for purveying credit in consonance with the socio-economic profile district, thus facilitating the development. He said that the NABARD State Credit Focus Paper 2021-22 also includes capacity building initiatives and developmental initiatives, particularly in the rural areas. He said that the Paper of NABARD would form the basis of the annual Credit Plan 2021-22 prepared by the SLBC /Leading Banks for banks of the State. He said that the NABARD has also setup Rural Marts in the rural areas of the State.
Convener State Level Bankers Committee S.S. Negi also shared his views on the occasion and appreciated the role being played by the NABARD in making rural economy more sustainable and vibrant.
General Manager/Officer in charge Reserve Bank of India K.C. Anand said that NABARD was playing a major role in strengthening the rural economy of the State.
Special Secretary Finance Rajesh Sharma and other officers were present on the occasion.