New Delhi (NVI): India provides $200 billion agriculture credit every year to small and marginal farmers which will be further enhanced once 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), as announced in this year’s Budget, are functional in near future, the 6th World Congress on Rural and Agriculture Finance was informed here on Tuesday.
Agriculture has been a lifeline of the Indian economy, providing livelihood to millions of farmers. However high production costs, and low access to credit, as well as poor market linkages hinder the sector’s growth. This adversely impacts India’s ranks of small and marginal farmers, which comprises around 85% of the sector.
Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) is an organizational mechanism mobilizing farmers’ collective that seeks to improve their own economic and social situation and that of their communities. Although still nascent, they have come a long way in the past several years and are fast becoming a critical component of the agricultural value chain in India.
In his welcome address at the World Congress, NABARD Chairman Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala said, “there will be a huge traction when the farmers will anchor the value chain, which in turn, will augment the value chain funding. These inclusive measures aided by technology interventions would bolster financial inclusion and rural financing efforts.”
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.
Finance Minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, who too addressed the Congress, said the Government of India’s top priority is to put the farmers’ concerns and rural development on a larger landscape.
The Finance Minister said that the Government was focusing on the priorities of fishermen in the coastal and inland water areas. She encouraged NABARD to focus on marketing of nutrients in the coastal areas. She said NABARD can work with the FPOs and SHGs in these areas to help increase nutritional input of the area, which could be well-received in the wellness industry.
The World Congress was jointly organised by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Asia-Pacific Rural Agricultural and Credit Association (APRACA).
The representatives of banks and financial institutions from over 40 countries such as China, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. had gathered in New Delhi to deliberate on the subject of Rural and Agriculture Finance: Critical Input to Achieve Inclusive and Sustainable Development.
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.