Mumbai, July 12, 2022: Delivering a lecture on the topic titled "Transforming Food Systems for 2030 and Beyond" on the occasion of the 41st Foundation Day of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), eminent agricultural economist Dr. Ashok Gulati said adequate focus should be given to environmentally sustainable and inclusive food systems in the years to come.
"There is no dearth of food availability in India. We have achieved self-sufficiency in food production thanks to technology-driven farming practices. Going forward, equal stress should be given to developing a sustainable food system by adopting environment-friendly agricultural practices," Dr. Gulati said adding that agriculture would turn resilient only when land, water and biodiversity are given due weightage.
Further, he advocated that robust value chains should be built around various food and commercial crops, which would not only increase farm income but also generate ample employment opportunities.
While appreciating NABARD for its developmental interventions over the past four decades that has transformed millions of lives, Dr. Gulati urged the apex financial institution to have futuristic initiatives towards evolving the country's food systems by supporting millet farming, bio-fortification of crops like paddy and wheat, etc. Further, he saw great potential in promoting solar energy as a 'third crop' through a model where small and marginal farmers would earn by renting out their farmland to solar power generating companies.
Speaking at the event, Dr. G R Chintala, Chairman, NABARD, said the Bank has achieved remarkable milestones in the past four decades of its existence and it would continue to scale greater heights through its technology-driven and pro-people interventions in the future.
"Over the years, NABARD has made all-out efforts to transform Indian villages through agri-finance, infrastructure development, banking technology, promotion of microfinance and rural entrepreneurship through SHGs & JLGs, strengthening rural financial institutions, etc. In the times to come, NABARD is going to make best possible use of technology to solve emerging challenges in agriculture and rural livelihoods through promotion of collectivisation in farm and off-farm sectors, green banking products, climate literacy among other things," Dr. Chintala said.
The event was also graced by four former chairmen of NABARD - Dr. P. Kotaiah, Shri U C Sarangi, Dr. Prakash Bakshi and Dr. H K Bhanwala, apart from Shri Shaji K V, DMD, NABARD, Shri P V S Suryakumar, DMD, NABARD and Shri S N Kaushik, CVO, NABARD.
NABARD, which was instituted in 1982 as a development financial institution for agriculture and rural development, is celebrating its 41st Foundation year. The apex organisation has come a long way since then and its balance sheet size has grown from Rs 4,500 crore four decades back to a whopping Rs 7.57 lakh crore by the end of FY 2022. Expanding the lending, the loan portfolio of the Bank has increased to Rs 6.80 lakh crore as on 31 March 2022 from Rs 6.03 lakh crore as on 31 March 2021, registering a growth of 12.89%. Total disbursement during the fiscal stood at Rs 3.77 lakh crore. It registered total refinance disbursement of Rs 2.68 lakh crore and has disbursed over Rs 41,000 crore towards rural infrastructure development during FY 2022.
Supporting the country’s financial institutions in the second and third waves of the covid-19 pandemic, NABARD infused adequate liquidity in the financial system by disbursing Rs 24,399 crore. A concessional refinance of Rs 15,000 crore was disbursed to cooperative and regional rural banks for boosting capital formation in agriculture.
NABARD has so far promoted as many as 6395 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) with a grant assistance of Rs 947 crore. Further, in a bid to encourage the institutional lenders to provide credit to FPOs, a credit guarantee fund with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore has been set up.
On the micro-credit front, 1.18 crore Self Help Groups (SHGs) have been covered cumulatively by the banks under SHG-Bank Linkage Programme (BLP). While bank loan disbursed to SHGs was Rs 99,549 crore, average loan disbursed per SHG stood at Rs 2.94 lakh in 2021-22. The grant assistance released by NABARD for promotion and nurturing of SHGs stood at Rs 427 crore.
Moreover, NABARD has been undertaking several initiatives such as piloting net zero-ground water use in watersheds, development of simple tools for climate change vulnerability analysis, climate proofing of its natural resource management interventions under wadi/watershed plantations and installation of automated weather stations, among others.
NABARD, as part of its strategic investments, joined the initiative of GoI as one of the frontline investors in Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) by making an initial investment of Rs 10 crore.