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Farm credit of Rs 11 lakh cr next fiscal is achievable: Jaitley

IANS | New Delhi |

Exhorting the Indian banking sector to invest in long-term assets to improve capital formation in the agriculture sector, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday that the credit flow target of Rs 11 lakh crore for the sector during 2018-19 is achievable.

“Investments in financial technology over the past few years have brought in efficiency, speed and transparency in the rural financial ecosystem.

“Agriculture credit flow target of Rs 11 lakh crore for 2018-19 is achievable by the banking sector and would add to the momentum towards doubling the farmers’ income by 2022.

“The banking sector must invest in long term assets to improve the capital formation in agriculture sector,” Jaitley said in the annual address here to the Board of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), according to a Finance Ministry release.

In line with the expected thrust on the farm sector, Budget 2018-19 announced that the minimum support price (MSP) for all agriculture produce would be fixed at a level to ensure the farmer a minimum return of one and a half times over the production cost.

Earlier this month, presenting the last full budget of the NDA government before the general elections next year, Jaitley said this measure would go a long way to realise the government’s goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

Nabard Chairman Harsh Kumar Bhanwala said in his address that the Rs 5,000-crore micro irrigation fund, which aims to promote water conserving and productivity enhancing technologies, will be operationalised shortly.

Financial Services Secretary Rajeev Kumar said the banking system should concentrate on geographical areas like northeast, east and central India where formal credit can give a fillip to growth potential these areas offer.