NABARD should work with greater focus in the agriculture sector so as to strengthen the rural economy of the state.

This was asserted by Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur while presiding over the NABARD state Credit Seminar 2021-22 on ‘Collectivization of Agricultural Produce for Enhancing Farmers Income’ here today.

The chief minister also released NABARD State Focus Paper-2021-22 and a booklet on ‘Various Refinance Schemes of NABARD’ on the occasion.

The chief minister hoped that the ‘The State Focus Paper’ would act as an input for the credit and infrastructure planning by bankers and state government to prioritize allocation of funds for development.

He said that this annual exercise aimed at promoting the increased production in agriculture and allied sectors and generating job opportunities in the farm as well as non-farm sector by the envisaged credit support.

Thakur said that being a special state, on account of its hilly terrain and other socio economic conditions, planning needs of the state cannot be equated with other states of the country. He said that the state needs special parameters, while working out its credit and developmental needs and while implementing development strategies.

He said that average land holding in Himachal Pradesh was one acre and constitute 88 percent of total land holdings of the state against the national average of 1.15 hectare and 86.21 percent respectively and 80 percent of the total cultivated area in the state is rain-fed.

All these factors of the low productivity and production of agriculture pose challenges for the planners and stakeholders, he added.

While appreciating the concept of Farmer Producers’ Organizations (FPO) of NABARD, Jai Ram Thakur said that the main objective of the FPOs is collectivization of agricultural produce, value addition and collective marketing so that farmers can fetch better prices of their produce. He said that the cumulative assistance had been sanctioned to the state under RIDF was Rs. 8679.28 crore as on date which is a major facilitator in creation of infrastructure in the state.

The chief minister said that bankers should issue Kissan Credit Cards to each and every eligible farmer in the State to facilitate them in availing credit as per their needs.

He said that NABARD has estimated credit potential for the year 2021-22 for the State for priority sectors was Rs 27724.04 crore, which shows an increase of 7.22 percent over the previous year plan of Rs. 25857.26 crore. This now needs to be executed appropriately by the bank and stakeholders in the process, he added.

Thakur said that the year 2020 has not been very kind and supportive in terms of promoting economic growth because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that it is also a great challenge before the government as well as to the institutions like NABARD, to ensure the best possible growth, and more so, in the rural areas since a large population of the nation still lives in these areas.