New Delhi, December 16, 2017: Union Finance Minister Shri. Arun Jaitley called for efforts by banks and financial institutions from Asia - Pacific countries to explore newer ideas to bring equity to agriculture, improve incomes, enhance the purchasing power and quality of farmers’ lives. He was addressing the 40th International Forum of the Bankers and Financial Institutions from 21 Asia - Pacific Countries jointly organised by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Asia - Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA) in New Delhi today.
Pressing the need for sustainability in agriculture and enhancing farmers' incomes, Shri Jaitley added that India will achieve its ambitious vision of doubling of farmer's income by making inputs available to farmers at reasonable cost and working towards reducing the cost of cultivation. Alongside thetre is a need for making available sustainable prices for agri produce, ensure credit in large quantum and other means such as improving rural connectivity and irrigation levels.
The representatives of banks and financial institutions from various Asia - Pacific countries of China, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. have gathered in New Delhi to deliberate on the 'Role of Rural and Agricultural Finance to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals’.
Shri. Rajiv Kumar, Secretary, Financial Services, Government of India, said, "India is massively pursuing digital inclusion and ensuring access to finance. We have a base of 1000 million accounts, similar number of Aadhaar identities and mobiles, which will ensure financial inclusion coupled with farm and non farm axtivities."
In his welcome address, Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD welcomed the dignitaries and praised various initiatives taken by the Government of India to improve farming and farmer's lives. He said, "The Government has taken steps to move farming from subsistence to sustenance to aspirational levels with a focus on doubling farmers incomes". He stressed the need for achieving sustainable development goals.
Shri. Shiba Raj Shrestha, Chairman, APRACA & Deputy Governor, Nepal Rastra Bank, in his welcome note said, "Enhancing rural livelihoods should be the top agenda when the factors like climate change and industrialisation are affecting sustainability." He gave a brief about the Nepal’s experiences in the region and added that financial access is a pre condition for attaining sustainability goals.
Shri. H. R. Dave, Deputy Managing Director, NABARD offered a vote of thanks.
The Two - Day Policy Forum will deliberate on ‘Rural and Agricultural Finance to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals’. It will discuss key topics like ‘Rural and agricultural entrepreneurship as driver to efficient agricultural value chains’, ‘Leveraging ICT to mitigate risks in financing to agricultural activities’ and ‘Issues and challenges of promoting rural and agriculture finance and markets’.
More than 80 international participants from the APRACA member institutions from 21 countries and about 40 participants from India are participating in the forum. These representatives are from the Central Banks, Development Banks, Commercial Banks, Microfinance Institutions, International multilateral and Bilateral agencies, Technology providers and Educational and Research institutions from across Asia-Pacific.
APRACA representing 81 member institutions from 21 countries, is a regional association that promotes cooperation and facilitates mutual exchange of information and expertise in the field of rural finance. Over the years it has developed a repository of knowledge in managing and serving rural financial institutions, financial inclusion and to help avert financial risks and improve efficiency.