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Financing alone not to solve problem of farmers: Bankers

Last Updated: Sunday, January 19, 2014 - 20:15

Ashok Kumar/OneWorld South Asia

Seasoned bankers representing various institutions said that farmers should take benefits from various credit schemes, but loans alone cannot improve their economic lot.New Delhi: Senior Banking Personnel representing various nationalised banks got together at the round-table meet in New Delhi to discuss ways of financing sustainable agriculture in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Most of the speakers were of the view that loans alone are not an answer to the various limitations faced by the small farmers in India and stressed for the need of educating farmers about various schemes available for the benefit of farmers at various nationalised banks.

The round table meet, ‘Financing for Sustainable Agriculture’, was organised by the Uttarakhand-based Shri Jagdamba Samiti (SJS) along with OneWorld.

Y P Arora, Chairman, Uttarakhand Gramin Bank, said that his bank engaged various NGOs for extending help to borrowers and instructed all the branches for issuing fresh loans to those affected by the flood disaster in the mountainous state. He underlined the need for educating farmers on various loans and certain ways by which they can reduce the amount of interest they end up paying on a loan.

“Our bank has launched many products catering to the need of people of Uttarakhand. But unless they are made aware of various schemes, they would not able to make the real benefit out of it,” he said.

Arora also cautioned that farmers should be discouraged from availing loans through the middlemen.

Ved Mathur, Deputy General Manager, Punjab National Bank, said that in the recent years Indian farmers have got easy access to credit. Banks have enough funds to provide loans to the farmers in the present times, he said.  Talking about sustainable agriculture he said, environmental protection should be ensured along with remunerative produce for the farmers. “Agriculture has become a non-viable activity in the present times, therefore, farmers should be encouraged to take animal husbandry as a secondary source of income,” he said.

He said that banks have a strong grievance redressal system and the civil society actors should take this message to the farmers and encourage them to approach with their bank related grievances to the concerned authorities. “Farmers can complain if they face any hassles in availing loans from banks,” he said.

M K Poddar, Deputy General Manager, Agricultural Insurance Company of India, said that banking and insurance goes hand in hand. Talking about various agricultural insurance schemes, he said that farmers in the country were initially averse to the idea of insuring their crops and considered it as a sort of taxation.

S K Sharma, Deputy General Manager, UCO Bank, said that freebies and subsidies impact a very small component of agriculture. There is a need to talk about inclusive growth and not just financial inclusion, he said.

“Agriculture in India is full of all kinds of risks. It is for policy makers to address these issues,” he said.

According to Sharma, financing alone will not solve the problem of farmers, as it comes with its own set of dilemmas.

L P Semwal, Chairman, Shri Jagdamba Samiti, said lament that Indian farmers have always been offered patching solutions, instead of structured solutions. He stressed that it was high time that farmers are looked at as an important component of lucrative business model. “Our farming practices have been sponsored and subsidised to a great extent,” he said.

The round table had representatives from various stakeholders, including the government, corporate and financial institutions, NGOs and people with interest in the sustainable development of Uttarakhand. OneWorld has already hosted a series of two conferences and two round tables on ‘Rebuilding Uttarakhand.’

India’s Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat was the Chief Guest at the first conference, while the Textiles Minister KS Rao was the Chief Guest at the second conference. SK Muttoo, IAS, Chief Investment Commissioner, Uttarakhand, and renowned agricultural scientist Professor M S Swaminathan addressed the first and second roundtables respectively.

Sri Jagadamba Samiti (SJS) along with OneWorld is holding a series of round-table discussions to explore means and mechanisms that could capitalise on the potential of rural India and overcome inefficiencies of the current rural production-supply chain relations.

These round tables involve farmer producer organisations; policy makers, academia and civil society actors; corporate houses and financial institutions and investors.

First Published: Sunday, January 19, 2014 - 20:15

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