Cooperation Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday that Agricultural and Rural Development Banks (ARDBs) should extend more long-term loans to the agriculture sector, including for irrigation projects and other infrastructure.
Mr. Shah was speaking at the National Conference of Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (ARDBs).
He congratulated the rural banks in Kerala, Gujarat, Karnataka and West Bengal that have excelled in following all the regulatory parameters.
“The objectives of NABARD are fulfilled only when all available money is spent on rural development and agriculture. But this is not possible unless we promote long-term finance, infrastructure and micro-irrigation in agriculture”Amit ShahMinister of Co-operation
“Diverting surplus funds to non-agricultural use does not serve the purpose. The objectives of NABARD are fulfilled only when all available money is spent on rural development and agriculture. But this is not possible unless we promote long-term finance, infrastructure and micro-irrigation in agriculture,” Mr. Shah said.
He said 25 years ago the share of long-term finance in the Agri sector was around 50% but now it has come down to 25%.
“In Assam, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, the entire infrastructure has collapsed. At present, only 13 States have agricultural and rural development banks running relatively in line with the expectations of the government,” the minister said.
He said the country ranked seventh in the world in agricultural land availability and in terms of agricultural activity, second only to America. “That is why NABARD was established. If we make 39.4 crore acres of land completely irrigated, then the Indian farmer will be able to eradicate hunger not only in the country but also in the world. But if it has to be irrigated and there is a shortage of water, then we have to go towards the micro irrigation system and if holdings have become small, then we have to irrigate them by taking help of cooperative societies,” he said.
Mr. Shah said there is no cooperative database in the country and unless there is a database, one cannot think of expansion. “We do not have any database of how many coastal States do not have fishermen’s cooperative societies. We do not have any database on how many cooperatives are working in the country,” he said.