12 July 2021, New Delhi: The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar said that the progress of small and medium farmers is the main aim of the government. Under the historic Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme, an amount of Rs 1.35 lakh crore has been transferred directly to bank accounts of more than 11 crore such farmers. Keeping in view the cost of cultivation and with the objective of making it remunerative for the farmers, the government has continuously increased the MSP, procurement through state agencies. NABARD played an important role in record purchase by disbursing about Rs. 50 thousand crore rupees to the state marketing associations. Mr. Tomar said this while addressing the webinar on 40th foundation day of NABARD.
Mr. Tomar said that it is extremely important to provide timely credit to small and marginal farmers. The government successfully campaigned in mission mode to provide Kisan Credit Cards to PM-Kisan beneficiaries even during the Corona pandemic. In the budget of the current financial year, Rs.16 lakh crore lending target has been set up for the sector. Mr. Tomar expressed satisfaction over the fact that NABARD has made available crop loans to farmers at concessional rates through cooperative and regional rural banks and in 7 years this amount reached to Rs.6.5 lakh crore. Mr. Tomar said that the government has also reformed agricultural marketing. There are one thousand Integrated National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) mandis and in the current year one thousand more mandis will be linked to this portal. The launch of ‘Operation Greens’ scheme and ‘Kisan Rail’ are also historic steps in this direction. The losses are being reduced by transporting fruits and vegetables from the fields to the consumer cities. A scheme has also been launched to form 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), which will work on the model of collectivism. He expressed happiness that NABARD has been a pioneer in the implementation of this ambitious scheme.
The Union Minister said that under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, laying emphasis on rural and agricultural infrastructure, the Prime Minister has allocated Rs 1.5 lakh crore for the development of agriculture and allied sectors. Rs. 1 Lakh crore has been allocated for special ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’ with the objective to promote investment. Farmers will now get financial assistance from the government with 3% interest and loan guarantee. NABARD, a participant in the scheme, has set a target to develop 35 thousand primary agricultural cooperative societies (PACS) as ‘one-stop shops’. NABARD has sanctioned Rs. 1,700 crore to 3 thousand PACS for setting up multiple service centres. Mr. Tomar said that in the last 7 years, NABARD has given Rs 1.81 lakh crore to the states under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund of which one-third is used for irrigation. This fund has been increased to 40 thousand crores. NABARD and others have also contributed well in ‘Per Drop – More Crop’ under PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana. In this campaign, the Center has increased the group amount of Micro Irrigation Fund under NABARD to Rs.10 thousand crore.
Addressing the webinar, Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India, Dr. Krishnamurthy Subramaniam said that there is a need for private investment to develop Indian agriculture and to promote innovations through investment. In this context, he mentioned that the new farm acts are very important for the development of small and marginal farmers. Commenting on the development of the agriculture sector, Dr. Subramaniam said Credit is very important for small and marginal farmers and institutions like NABARD ensure that proper provision is made to provide credit to these farmers across the country.
NABARD Chairman Dr. G.R. Chintala said that there is a need to make appropriate investments in green infrastructure, which will be around Rs 18.37 lakh crore by the year 2024-25, out of which Rs.7.35 lakh crore will be kept for agricultural infrastructure. Dr. Chintala said that the agricultural eco-system is changing, due to which the life of the farming community will become more convenient than before as farmers will be able to use information technology for farming systems, processing as well as export, which will increase their income. He said that since the last several decades, NABARD has been striving for the upliftment of the agricultural and rural community through various measures. “Our commitment is to develop a system where small and marginal farmers, rural women and agricultural laborers can avail benefits of such institutions”, he added.