“It’s a known fact that getting loans has always been a Herculean task for poor and illiterate farmers. It’s the bank’s administrative mechanism that prohibits needy farmers from entering into any bank and even if some of them manage to get into the institutions, their applications don’t get processed easily. They have to run from pillar to post to get approved a particular amount of loan,” Singh said.
“Since Nabard, the apex banking body of micro-financing and funding to the causes of rural development, is considered as a backbone of farmers in rural areas, it should bring in some flexible changes into its existing mechanism so that loan benefits could be extended to maximum number of beneficiaries,” the minister said.
Asking Nabard to make its agriculture loan process easier along with its banking facilities so that they can grant the required loan on time, the minister asked the agency to work on to standardise the documents concerned for the sanction of loan. “We should ensure that loan applying process might be conducted online and agriculture loan should be provided within scheduled timeframe,” Singh said on the valedictory function of one-day national seminar on doubling of farmers’ income by 2022.
“A long-term irrigation fund has been set up with a cluster fund of Rs 20,000 crore with the cooperation of Nabard to complete some of the larger irrigation projects,” Singh said.
Hailing the farmer-friendly initiatives of the Narendra Modi Government, Singh said, “The Centre has provided financial help of Rs 10,225 crore to 10.49 lakh joint liability groups in just 2 years of the governance to provide bank loan to landless farmers.”
While taking on previous UPA government, the minister said, “The previous government had provided financial help of only Rs 6,630 crore to 6.7 lakh such clusters in a period of 7 years.” Singh also said that a target of Rs 9 lakh crore has been earmarked for the year 2016-17 to fulfil the loan needs of farmers and the government is hopeful that it would be achieved.
Given that digitalization process related to land records in most of the states has also been completed, it would help in loan sanctioning to farmers. “Apart from this, online mortgage is also being facilitated. Simultaneously, the schemes related to interest subvention and relaxations on timely repayment of the loan are also continued this year so that farmers might obtain agriculture loan at the rate of 4 per cent interest. Recently a sum of Rs 18,000 crore has been approved for interest subventions,” the minister added.
According to Nabard officials, the financing agency is carrying out financial literacy programmes in five hundred districts, including 60 districts of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. Spelling out the roles of NABARD, Harsh Kumar Bhanwala said, “The agency acts as a catalyst as it coordinates with banks and regional cooperative banks for the betterment of rural people and its infrastructure through lending credit to various banks.”
The apex banking body of micro-financing is also providing direct help to get geographical Indicators GI tags to their region-specific produces.