NABARD marks Foundation Day with new announcements for rural India
Mumbai | 13 July 2020 05:32 PM

In a marked shift from the usual, NABARD organised a ‘digital choupal’ to mark its 39th Foundation Day. The event brought together farmers from across the country with some riveting stories of struggle and success. These amazing individuals have been associated with NABARD in various development projects in rural India covering areas like soil health, climate adaptation, water conservation, SHG mobilisation, livelihoods, farmer producer organisations and off farm producer organisations. 
Shri G R Chintala, Chairman launched a slew of measures on the occasion to strengthen rural banks, farmer cooperatives and creation of livelihoods opportunities. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Chintala stated that “Each year brings a new set of challenges for the farming communities and this year it has come in the shape of Covid-19. I will like to believe that this challenge has opened new vistas for the nearly 14 crore farmers. We need to develop an eco-system which both empowers and emboldens the Indian farmer and brings the entire system closer to the cultivators in the form of new convergence and delivery models. The announcements made today are steps towards building a more resilient rural India in the current Covid-19 affected rural scape.” 
In a move which will boost off take of economic activities in areas grappling with reverse migration, concessional bank refinance to the tune of ₹ 5,000 crore will be made available to banks and financial institutions for lending to beneficiaries in the 2150 watershed development projects of NABARD. These projects cover 23.04 lakh hectares of rainfed area watershed and tribal development project areas. The concessional line of assistance will be available for three years from 2020-21 to 2022-23. The scheme will help the reverse migrants, who have returned to their villages from urban areas following the COVID-19 crisis, take up new occupations.  
Giving a fillip to adoption of technology by and among Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), NABARD today introduced a grant-based scheme for computerization to enable these ground-level entities to provide seamless credit services to their farmer members. PACS are the building blocks of India’s cooperative banking structure and under this initiative, assistance will be extended to each state which will have to contribute a matching amount, to kick-start the process of computerization of PACS. 
In a promising announcement, NABARD announced earmarking of ₹5,000 crore during 2020-21 for turning PACS into multi service centres, which are one-stop shops for meeting the varied needs of the farmers. As many as 5,000 PACS will be upgraded this year followed by 15,000 PACS in FY 2022 and 15000 PACS in FY 2023. Stressing upon the key role a PACS can play, Shri Chintala, Chairman stated that, “PACS can support farmers in post-harvest and marketing activities in addition to playing a key role in physical and financial supply chain of commodities by acting as spokes to the upcoming Gramin Agriculture Markets (GrAMs). Moreover, the recent reforms in APMC Act, Essential Commodities Act, Contract Farming Act also favour such a transformation of PACS. These upgraded PACS can be vehicles for creating investment opportunities for rural youth in agriculture, including those impacted by reverse migration in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”