“Agriculture must be the touch stone for growth”, says FM
Mumbai 12 July 2015: NABARD organized a National Seminar on Mitigating Agrarian Distress and Enhancing Farm Incomes at its Head Office in Mumbai on 12th July 2015. The Seminar was inaugurated by Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister, who lauded NABARD’s 33 years of glorious service to the nation. He praised its efforts in addressing critical issues and challenges faced by the rural economy.
He highlighted Government of India’s recent initiatives in promoting agricultural growth, viz. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, which will have an outlay of Rs. 50,000 crore over a period of five years (2015-16 to 2019-20). He committed that the surplus resources generated will be ploughed back into rural infrastructure and irrigation and said “redistribution and growth” are both necessary.
He emphasized the importance of rural infrastructure in catalyzing growth and unveiled a book portraying the yeoman role played by NABARD’s Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) over the last 20 years.
He also launched ‘Rural Tracker’, an online portal developed by NABARD providing information concerning agriculture and rural economy.
He said that while the monsoon is delayed, the estimates indicate ‘sufficient monsoon’ and India continues to be a bright spot amongst emerging nations especially with our food self-sufficiency and a growth of around 8%.
Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD, welcomed the guests and outlined the role played by NABARD in addressing the critical issues related to credit, rural infrastructure and livelihoods. He highlighted NABARD’s role in the development of rural infrastructure through Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), Warehouse Infrastructure Fund (WIF) and NABARD Infrastructure Assistance (NIDA). He mentioned the recent innovations in financial inclusion made by NABARD viz. digitization of SHGs, CBS in Cooperative banks and RRBs.
He also mentioned that NABARD is the only National Implementing Entity for Climate Change funding in India. NABARD was earlier accredited by the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) of UNFCCC as the National Implementing Entity (NIE) for India and now just two days ago, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has further accredited NABARD as the first National Implementing Entity (NIE) of GCF established under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 09 July 2015 at the Board meeting of GCF at Songdo, Republic of Korea. NABARD has been playing an important role in funding a number of feasible projects on climate change adaptation, with a view to climate-proofing agriculture.
He said that the seminar was organized with a view to broad-base the discourse on mitigating agrarian distress and enhancing farm incomes.
Shri H R Khan, Deputy Governor, RBI, praised the valuable contributions made by NABARD over the last 33 years and mentioned that quality agricultural inputs and irrigation are far more important than agricultural credit. He also said that while agricultural credit has increased exponentially, there are many causes of concern relating to regional spread and cost of finance especially since 40% of agricultural credit is still coming from informal sources.
The inaugural session was followed by two technical sessions, viz. (1) Nature, extent, causes and issues for agrarian distress and coping strategies; and (2) Institutional arrangements.
The first session was chaired by Prof. Ashok Gulati, Infosys Chair Professor at ICRIER, New Delhi. This session deliberated on the nature, extent, causes and issues for agrarian distress and coping strategies. The following is the gist of deliberations:
· The persistence of agrarian distress needs to be addressed through two dimensions, viz. agricultural and agrarian [production and livelihood issues].
· The agricultural dimension can be addressed by strengthening the link between research & agricultural extension to farmers, adequate & timely agricultural credit and mitigation of risk through effective insurance.
· Under the agrarian dimension, declining income of those dependent on agriculture needs to be addressed through producers’ groups, skilling rural youth for off-farm employment, and creating employment opportunities through agri-value chains.
· Promotion of sustainable natural resource management strategies will spawn several micro enterprises and requires immediate attention.
The second session deliberated on the institutional arrangements was chaired by Shri J.K.Mohapatra, Secretary, Rural Development, Government of India. The gist of the deliberations are as under:
· Emphasis must be on expanding agricultural credit through area based schemes promoted by NABARD.
· Development of a National Common Market for agricultural commodities is a welcome initiative and is an urgent necessity.
· A revitalized crop insurance which is on the anvil will do yeoman service to our farmers-minimizing their risks.
· Enhanced thrust on creation of rural infrastructure with focus on irrigation, water harvesting, rural connectivity, warehousing etc. through successful instruments like RIDF.
The valedictory address was delivered by Shri H.R.Khan, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India, who expressed concern about agrarian distress in the country, which has critically impacted the rural economy. He appreciated NABARD for organizing this Seminar. He opined that the ideas generated will pave the way for a long term action plan.
Shri. H.R.Dave, DMD, Chairman, NABARD thanked the dignitaries and mentioned that NABARD will ensure that the important issues flagged will be carried forward for refining the existing policy.