Addressing the 6th World Congress on Rural and Agriculture Finance jointly organised by NABARD and Asia-Pacific Rural Agricultural and Credit Association (APRACA) at Taj Man Singh in Delhi on Tuesday Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the govt’s top priority is to put the farmers’ concerns and rural development on a larger landscape.
The representatives of banks and financial institutions from over 40 countries such as China, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. have gathered in New Delhi to deliberate on the subject of Rural and Agriculture Finance.
Several representatives of co-operative sector including NAFSCOB Chairman, NCDC MD, MD of NAFSCOB, IFFCO representative, among others were present on the occasion.
The Finance Minister said that the country cannot do without depending on agriculture. She enumerated benefits of soil health cards and wanted farmers participation in solar energy generation, wind energy, installing solar panels in his farms, etc. The Annadata can become Urjadaata, she underlined.
The Finance Minister also directed NABARD to extend support to the farmers in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh; so that the next crop of saffron, peaches, walnuts and other agriculture produce in the state is procured at the right time. She also stressed the need to promote solar energy in the Ladakh region.
Sitharaman also raised the issue being faced by fishermen in the coastal and inland water areas. She also asked NABARD to focus on marketing of nutrients in the coastal areas. “NABARD can work with the FPOs and SHGs in these areas to help increase nutritional input of the area”, she added.
In his welcome address, Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD said, “India provides $200 billion agriculture credit every year to small and marginal farmers. This will be enhanced once the formation 10,000 FPOs, as announced in this year’s Budget, will be functional.
Dr Bhanwala also announced that NABARD’s largest SHG-Bank Linkage Programme benefiting millions of rural women will soon move to a digital platform. This will revolutionise the lending to women SHGs, he added.
APRACA, representing 81 member institutions from 21 countries, is a regional association that promotes cooperation and facilitates mutual exchange of information and expertise in the field of rural finance.
Mr Senarath Bandara, Chief Executive Officer, Bank of Ceylon and Chairman of APRACA offered opening remarks. Shri. Prasun Kumar Das, Secretary General, APRACA offered a vote of thanks.